Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

"Separating Deh cho politics from business"

Separating Deh cho politics from business

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, March 26, 2009

LIIDLII KUE/FORT SIMPSON - A recent forum held in Fort Simpson is being hailed as the first step in a new chapter of economic and business development in the Deh Cho.

The goal of the forum was to discuss economic development in the Deh Cho and the separation of politics and business within the Dehcho First Nations (DFN), said Cynthia Cardinal James, the chairperson of the Dehcho Economic Corporation.

"It's just in the interest of better business," she said.

DFN currently has a number of economic committees that fall under the organization's umbrella. The forum examined how to separate those committees from the politics of DFN so they can focus on business, said Cardinal James.

"It was an internal exercise to go through everything and review it," she said.

During the forum participants listened to presentation by four of the major DFN committees including the Resource Royalty Committee, the Master Trust, the Access and Benefits negotiation committee and the Mackenzie Gas Project Infrastructure Fund. The presentations covered the committees' mandates, budgets and current status.

Following a round table discussion each committee was examined separately and a decision was made as to whether it was a political or business entity. This label outlines how the committees will move forward, said Cardinal James.

The Resource Royalty Committee along with the Master Trust were given the business label. The Mackenzie Gas Project Infrastructure Fund was labeled political because it's a social fund while the Access and Benefits negotiation committee received a split designation.

This forum was just the first step in the separation process, Cardinal James said.

"We're certainly not done," she said.

At the next forum, which is scheduled for early June, the focus will be on carrying the process forward and looking at governance structures. All of the recommendations made at the forums will be taken to the leadership for approval, she said.

The forum was organized jointly by DFN and the Dehcho Economic Corporation. The corporation is the economic arm of DFN and represents 13 bands and Metis locals. Its responsibilities include identifying economic opportunities

Cardinal James considers the forum a success.

"There was a lot of support. It was a positive exercise for all of us," she said.

In a press release Grand Chief Jerry Antoine said that the forum was a much needed exercise and that it provided an opportunity to reset DFN's economic vision.


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