Tłı̨chǫ Government response to Dene Nation press release
Behchokǫ̀ NT (March 5, 2019) Tłı̨chǫ Government today responded to and clarified certain aspects of a March 1, 2019 press release issued by Dene Nation concerning the proposed NWT Forest Act.
The Dene Nation press release states that the Dene are “unanimously” opposed to the proposed Forest Act. Dene Nation also condemns the process by which the proposed Forest Act was developed. Dene Nation’s press release implies these statements are made on behalf of all of its member governments. That is not the case. On these important matters, Dene Nation does not speak for Tłı̨chǫ Government or the Tłı̨chǫ Nation.
Since 2017, Tłı̨chǫ Government has been working in partnership with the GNWT and other Indigenous Governments on the development of new pieces of NWT legislation required following devolution. Key draft legislation that has been developed includes the Mineral Resources Act, the Protected Areas Act, and the Forest Act. This draft legislation has been developed through a cooperative and collaborative process, pursuant to the Intergovernmental Agreement (“IGA”) and under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Council Secretariat (“IGCS”) that is made up of Indigenous Governments—including Tłı̨chǫ Government—and GNWT.
The Forest Act has not yet been introduced to the Legislative Assembly, but Tłı̨chǫ Government was actively involved in its development and has reviewed the draft bill GNWT prepared. Tłı̨chǫ Government has some serious concerns about the text of the draft bill and it has shared those concerns with GNWT and with the other IGOs who participated in developing this legislation. Tłı̨chǫ Government hopes and expects that its concerns will be addressed before the bill is introduced in the Legislative Assembly. If its concerns are not addressed, Tłı̨chǫ Government will work through the legislative and committee process to modify the Forest Act and ensure it is the best legislation for the Tłı̨chǫ and for all residents of the NWT. If it proves necessary to oppose the Forest Act, Tłı̨chǫ Government will take those steps it deems appropriate.
While it has concerns with the proposed Forest Act, Tłı̨chǫ Government disagrees with Dene Nation’s broad criticism of the process by which the Forest Act was developed and strongly disagrees with Dene Nation’s assertion that the yet-to-be-introduced draft bill treated Dene “as if their land claims did not exist” or constitutes a “step back in time”. That is simply not the case.
“The process by which these pieces of legislation was developed was, overall, a good process and one that Tłı̨chǫ Government has been actively engaged in”, said Grand Chief George Mackenzie. “There were areas where improvement is needed. There always are. And Tłı̨chǫ Government is committed to working with GNWT and the other Indigenous Governments that have been involved to make those improvements.” Grand Chief Mackenzie continued, “this recent press release from Dene Nation does not accurately reflect our experience working with GNWT and other Indigenous governments through this process and, in making these statements, Dene Nation does not appear to respect or understand Tłı̨chǫ Government’s experience. The Tłı̨chǫ are a Nation and the Tłı̨chǫ Government speaks for the Tłı̨chǫ.”
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