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NNSL Photo/graphic

Representing Dehgah Alliance Society, Rene Lamothe, left, Joe Acorn and Jim Hope-Ross make a presentation to the Joint Review Panel during the general hearing in Fort Simpson. - Roxanna Thompson/NNSL photo

A long way to go for pipeline

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (May 19/06) - The Deh Cho is not arguing that a settled land claim is needed before the Mackenzie Valley pipeline can get approval.

But a list of prerequisites must be in place, according to representatives of the Dehgah Alliance Society. This statement was made during the Dehgah Alliance Society's (DAS) presentation to the Joint Review Panel at a general hearing held in Fort Simpson May 10.

The society is making a "major concession" by considering allowing the project, Joe Acorn, technical advisor for DAS, said.

During his section of the presentation, Acorn used quotations from Thomas Berger's conclusion after the Berger inquiry that native land claims had to be settled before a pipeline was built.

Acorn also quoted statements given during the panel hearings by Nellie Cournoyea, chair of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation; Fred Carmichael, president of the Gwich'in Tribal Council, and Charlie Furlong, Chief of Aklavik, on how their settled land claims have affected their decisions on the pipeline.

"It's hypocritical for leaders in these regions to recommend that the JRP should approve this project because they have land claims to protect their land and yet fail to acknowledge that there is still no land claim to protect the Deh Cho lands," Acorn said.

Keyna Norwegian, president of the Dehgah Alliance Society, characterized the hearing process as "significantly unfair and biased in favour of those who are supportive of the pipeline."

The list of prerequisites DAS is asking to have before the National Energy Board issues the Mackenzie Gas Project including a certificate of public convenience and necessity which includes accommodation and consultation of the Deh Cho, access agreements, benefits agreements, annual revenue requirements and harvester compensation agreements.

The society also wants the Deh Cho Land Use Plan to be approved and implemented by the Dehcho First Nations and the Canadian and territorial governments.

At the end of their presentation, the society submitted the draft access and benefits agreements it has with Imperial Oil to the panel to be put on the public registry.

"We object to the filing of those documents," Randy Ottenbreit, speaking for Imperial Oil, said.

Ottenbreit said the documents were provided in confidence.

Acorn said the society has always maintained that the agreements would be public documents.

"We want an open and public process, transparent," Rene Lamothe, the lead negotiator for DAS, to explain the submission said.

Robert Hornal, chair of the panel, said he would consider comments from all parties before making a decision on whether to allow the submission.

Other presenters at the general hearing in Fort Simpson included Sambaa K'e Dene Band, the Village of Fort Simpson, Transport Canada and the Arctic Indigenous Youth Alliance.