NW Week

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

After decades of talks with the federal govt, Dehcho First Nations will draught its own land code

After decades of talks with the federal govt, Dehcho First Nations will draught its own land code

Key takeaways:

  • In the coming months, Dehcho First Nations (DFN) plans to draft a land code that will govern all aspects of land and asset management in its territory.
  • Negotiations on a land claim agreement with the federal and territorial governments began in 1999 and have been stalled for decades.
  • As part of the land code development process, DFN claims it will consult with stakeholders such as the federal and territorial governments.

Dehcho 1st Nations says it’s tired of waiting for the federal and territorial governments to recognize the Dehcho people’s jurisdiction over their land and resources, so it’s devising its own set of rules to govern their use.

Dehcho First Nations (DFN) says it will draught a land code in the coming months to govern all aspects of land and asset management in its territory.

DFN is a Dene First Nation, and Métis tribal council comprises eight Dene First Nation communities and two Métis communities. Their territory stretches across the Northwest Territories and into Yukon and British Columbia, covering approximately 250,000 square kilometers.

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According to a DFN news release dated Dec. 6, “DFN will demand that Canada and the [government of the Northwest Territories] recognize their authority over the lands and resources of their Territory, and accept that the Dehcho Land Code is crucial over any federal or territorial legislation once the code is implemented.”

Negotiations with the federal and territorial govts on a land claim agreement began in 1999 and have been stalled for decades.

“In the absence of an agreement recognizing the Dehcho First Nations’ authority over their lands, the [government of the Northwest Territories] has asserted this authority and also has acted as if it has jurisdiction to handle Dehcho lands and resources, despite the Dehcho First Nations’ strenuous objections. This has exacerbated the region’s confusion and tension, “read the press release.

‘We own the land,’ says the narrator.

Kenneth Cayen, Grand Chief of the Dehcho First Nations, said there is a fundamental dispute about the First Nations’ influence of their lands in an interview with CBC’s Trail’s End.

“I’m hoping to shed some light on everything.”

DFN asserts it will consult with stakeholders, such as the federal and territorial gov’ts, as part of the land code development process.

After completing a draught, public consultations will be held before it is submitted for ratification to a Dehcho Assembly.

After decades of talks with the federal govt, Dehcho First Nations will draught its own land code
After decades of talks with the federal govt, Dehcho First Nations will draught its own land code. image from Yahoo

The territorial and federal governments have remained silent on the subject.

Todd Sasaki, a spokesman for the Northwest Territories’ Department of Executive and Indigenous Affairs, wrote to CBC News to say that the government has yet to receive an official statement of the Dehcho First Nation’s proposals or intentions to draught a property code and, as a result, is unable to comment.

“How land is did manage is the topic of ongoing negotiations, as well as interim measures, are in place to govern how land is managed within the Dehcho until those negotiations are resolved,” he said.

“We’re interested in learning more about Dehcho’s proposed strategy.”

In a similar vein, a spokesperson for Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, Nicolas Moquin, informed CBC News in an email that the department is aware of DFN’s plans to create its land code but that it is “unable to comment at this early stage.”

Moquin wrote, “We look forward to discussing this further with Dehcho First Nations.”

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