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Grand chief seeks alternatives to court

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Nov 05/04) - Herb Norwegian is scheduled to be back in Ottawa this week, looking for viable alternatives to pursuing a lawsuit against the federal government.

Norwegian has a Friday meeting lined up with Andy Scott, minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

Dehcho First Nations (DFN) chiefs and delegates held an in camera meeting last Wednesday morning and early afternoon to discuss possible solutions to the court action. DFN is demanding to be an equal partner in a panel formed to oversee environmental aspects of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline project.

"That's kind of crucial," Norwegian said.

Even if the Deh Cho signs on to the panel, that won't indicate support for the pipeline or the multinational oil and gas companies behind it, according to Norwegian.

He said the DFN will still be seeking revenue sharing and access agreements. As well, elders and traditional harvesters will have to be fully engaged and consent to the pipeline project, he added.

At one point last week, he spoke with optimism about the potential to "break the deadlock" with the federal government.

At the same time, the DFN declined to provide funding to the Fort Providence Residential School Society because, Norwegian told the regional leaders at the table, the court case is looming and every available dollar may be needed to fight it.