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Metis Nation also negotiating park

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Monday, April 12, 2010

THEBACHA/FORT SMITH - The Northwest Territory Metis Nation is also in talks with the federal government about a proposed park in the East Arm of Great Slave Lake.

"There is a separate framework agreement being negotiated for the Metis," said Earl Jacobson, executive director of the Northwest Territory Metis Nation.

Jacobson said the Metis want their agreement to be equal to that signed on April 7 by Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation (LKDFN).

"It should be very similar," he said.

The executive director said the details of the agreement are being worked out and he expects it should be ready to sign in a month or so.

However, Chief Steve Nitah of LKDFN does not agree with the need for a separate agreement with the Northwest Territory Metis Nation.

"Lutsel K'e objects to any agreement relating to land with the Metis Nation in Akaitcho," he said.

Nitah explained the Lutsel K'e and Akaitcho position is Metis can only claim an interest in the land through their Dene ancestors.

Therefore, Nitah said the Metis should be Akaitcho citizens and not Metis as defined by the Metis Nation.

"If they're in the Akaitcho, then they're Akaitcho Dene," he said.

Lutsel K'e represents all aboriginal people who are indigenous to the Akaitcho Territory in negotiations over the park, he said. "There should not be two distinct aboriginal groups in our area," he added.

Nitah said there is a "strong possibility" a federal agreement with the Northwest Territory Metis Nation could be a stumbling block to eventually creating a national park.

Lutsel K'e has taken the lead on park negotiations because the area is in the band's traditional territory, the chief added. "The Metis have no business over there."

Betty Villebrun, president of the Northwest Territory Metis Nation, could not be reached for comment.

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