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Access and benefits negotiations with Imperial Oil stalled [DFN]

Access and benefits negotiations with Imperial Oil stalled
Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, July 2, 2009

TTHEK'EHDELI/JEAN MARIE RIVER - Access and benefits negotiations between the Dehcho First Nation and Imperial Oil have stalled.

On June 24, DFN delegates attending the nations' annual assembly were informed by Shane Parrish that access and benefits negotiations with Imperial Oil for the Mackenzie Gas Project have hit an impasse.

Parrish, the assistant to the lead negotiator on the Dehcho First Nations' (DFN) team, said differences arose over the harvesters and monitoring agreement.

DFN wants compensation for both commercial and non-commercial harvesters as well as a monitoring project incorporating traditional knowledge as a key component. Imperial Oil said no to both requests, said Parrish.

However, progress has been made on access and benefits compensation, expected to be worth nearly $300 million.

The benefits portion is 90 per cent completed and will be worth approximately $270 million, Parrish said.

The access compensation will be approximately $30 million.

Access and benefits negotiations spurred a lot of comments from the delegates.

Wrigley delegate David Moses said his community will feel be affected the most by the proposed pipeline and negotiations shouldn't proceed until Wrigley is consulted further.

The consultations used to include community but now it's just on the regional level, Moses said.

Raquel Michaud, a delegate with Liidlii Kue First Nation, cautioned against making hasty decisions that youth will have to deal with the consequences of.

"We shouldn't push things through just because we're told we have to," Michaud said.

Delegates listened to presentations from two of the parties involved in the Dehcho Process.

The parties are making progress, said Tim Christian, the chief federal negotiator.

"There are some issues and some will take some work," he said.

Christian said Canada is interested in reaching an agreement that's similar to others in the territory, particularly in respect to land selection.

He estimated an agreement in principal is approximately a year away.

In his presentation DFN's chief negotiator George Erasmus said the one year estimate is "amazingly ambitious."

The parties have some important issues to work on including the amount of land, jurisdiction for the Dehcho government and the Dehcho Resource Management Authority.

Touching on another important issue Erasmus said by Christmas the three negotiating parties might have a version of the Land Use Plan ready to bring back to their governments.

After an in-camera session the delegates passed a resolution supporting their current position of making the Dehcho Land Use Plan the highest priority in the Dehcho Process but also allowing negotiations on the agreement in principal to proceed.

DFN's seven person executive committee has six new members.

Chief Isadore Simon, Chief Fred Tesou, Elder Ernest Cazon and members at large Bertha Norwegian and Victor Constant were acclaimed to the committee.

Elder Margaret Leishman will be serving another term to provide continuity.

The committee is chaired by the grand chief and follows the same three-year term as that position.

Work is progressing on Edehzhie protected area.

The evaluations required under step five of the Protected Areas Strategy are completed and work has begun on a management plan, said Jonas Antoine, DFN's representative on the Edehzhie working group.

Antoine told delegates that they should "lobby like hell," for a sub-surface land withdrawl and to implement the boundary the leadership approved in February.

Although the area has been reduced by 43 per cent to 14,249 from 25,230 square kilometres, it still includes nearly 90 per cent of the important ecological and cultural areas while leaving out 78 per cent of the oil and gas potential, Antoine said.

Deneze Nakehk'o of Fort Simpson said he approved the Edehzhie project.

"I think it's very important we protect the areas that are important to us," said Nakehk'o.

Member returns

Richard Lafferty will be serving another three year term with DFN's Investment Management Board.

Lafferty's term ended at the assembly. Berna Norwegian, one of the two remaining board members, recommended that Lafferty be re-appointed because of his extensive experience with the board.


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