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Dehcho First Nations awaits update on findings from feds and territory
Grand chief reflecting on Dehcho Process land claims negotiations

April Hudson
Northern News Services
Thursday, March 2, 2017

After years without a proper gathering place, Kakisa's new community hall filled with Deh Cho leaders, elders and community members the week of Feb. 20 for Dehcho First Nation's winter leadership meeting.

The meeting ran until Feb. 23 and was the first time in a long time that Dehcho First Nations has been able to hold a gathering in Kakisa, according to Grand Chief Herb Norwegian.

"It's a really beautiful place, and the feelings of the elders who were there with us were still lingering in the air. You could feel it," Norwegian said.

"We were glad to be back there, and we just want to thank the people of Kakisa for allowing us to meet there again."

Dehcho First Nations holds regular quarterly leadership meetings. During this meeting, leaders discussed the upcoming Dehcho Assembly, Dehcho First Nations' upcoming economic conference and the Dehcho Process report developed by ministerial special representative Anne Marie Doyle, among other topics of conversation. Norwegian said Doyle's report is in the hands of the territorial and federal government and is still being reviewed.

"They're looking at next steps. At some point, the minister and premier will then be calling upon us to meet with them, and then we'll get an indication of where they want to go with all this," Norwegian said.

"It's a wait-and-see situation."

Although Norwegian says he originally proposed that Doyle's report be given to Dehcho First Nations as well as the territorial and federal government, that didn't happen.

"They decided it should be just between the two governments. We left it at that; we didn't push it," he said.

Water concerns in the spotlight

Norwegian said elders and leaders used the leadership meeting as an opportunity to voice their opposition to Site C dam on Peace River in northeast B.C. and the impact it could have on the Deh Cho region.

"There are all kinds of problems people are starting to see on the river. Obviously, the problem is upstream and things are taking place that are totally out of (our) control," he said.

"The only thing you can do is object and talk to the various people responsible for it, kind of like a letter-writing campaign."

Awareness about the need for "good, clean water" is also growing, he added, noting Dehcho First Nations will be keeping an eye on the dam project.

Summer assembly date, location set

The annual Dehcho Assembly will take place in Fort Providence this summer.

Firm dates were not available but the assembly will convene the week before Aboriginal Day, Norwegian said.

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