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Nadli believes most other
Deh Cho communities won't sign on

Grand chief says region must settle pipeline terms with feds

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Oct 15/01) - Michael Nadli is confident Deh Cho communities won't sign the pipeline agreement one-by-one.

Fort Liard endorsed the Aboriginal Pipeline Group's memorandum of understanding (MOU) two weeks ago. Now Fort Simpson is on the verge of adding its support. However, the grand chief of the Deh Cho First Nations said the APG's momentum will likely stop there, with the possible exception of the Hay River Reserve.

"There's still some leaders out there who have strong principles, so that's the encouraging thing at this point," Nadli said Friday.

He noted that he has not wavered from the resolution passed at the Wrigley special assembly last month. That resolution states that the Deh Cho will negotiate the terms of a pipeline directly with the federal government.

On the other hand, if a majority of 10 Deh Cho communities do sign the MOU, then, Nadli acknowledged, he would be forced to re-think his position. However, support for a Mackenzie Valley pipeline isn't limited to the APG's proposal, he added.

"There's a lot of companies coming up the ranks," he said. "So there's going to be many choices... it would be very premature (to sign the MoU)."

He pointed out that last month APG chair Nellie Cournoyea claimed to respect the Deh Cho's position and committed to let the region sort out its own affairs. He said he's disappointed she hasn't kept her word.

"They're basically confusing our people here at this point, and meddling with the internal affairs of our organizations and our process," he said.

Cournoyea was not available for comment Friday, but APG secretary Wilf Blonde said the APG has done nothing improper. It has only supplied information to Deh Cho communities regarding the MOU, he said.

"It's our job to explain what the MOU is all about," he said. "If that is influencing, then yes we have influence."

Blonde argued that the DCFN's mandate is to negotiate a land claims agreement and whether a pipeline is included within the parameters that land claim agreement is questionable

"We'd really like to have the backing of the Deh Cho First Nations, but it's up to the individual chiefs whether they feel this is part of DCFN's mandate or not," he said. "We have six other regions who would like to have a pipeline. I feel the (Deh Cho) communities are going to recognize that they want to."