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Dehcho First Nations Process 

Land, Resources and Self-Government Agreement-in-Principle Negotiations

The community of Wrigley

The Dehcho Process began in 1999, with negotiations on both a Framework Agreement and an Interim Measures Agreement (IMA). Negotiations were based on Dr. Peter Russell’s work in 1998, and his report describing 21 Common Ground Principles.

In 2001, the Dehcho First Nations (DFN), the Government of Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) signed the IMA and the Framework Agreement, which set out the subjects for negotiations to conclude an Agreement-in-Principle (AIP) and a Final Agreement that will clarify and build upon the existing treaties.

Key Documents:   

Frequently Asked Questions about the Dehcho Process (as of March 2015): 

1. Is the GNWT Threatening to Terminate Dehcho Process Negotiations?

No. The GNWT has worked hard to find solutions to the significant outstanding issues at Dehcho Process negotiations. Part of this work included making an offer to the Dehcho on land quantum and how to conclude a Dehcho Agreement in Principle. This offer took many months to develop and incorporated the work of senior officials appointed by myself and Dehcho Grand Chief to consider innovative solutions to these very challenges.

2. What is in the GNWT offer?

The GNWT made a comprehensive offer to conclude the outstanding land and resource issues in the draft Agreement in Principle. The GNWT offer included a land quantum of 37,500 km2.  This would result in the Dehcho First Nations having title to 37,500 km2 of land with surface title and approximately a 17.78% interest in the subsurface resources of the entire Dehcho Settlement Area. The GNWT offer also included elements that would:

  • guide the completion of a Dehcho Land Use Plan,
  • set out the structure and responsibilities of the Dehcho Resource Management Authority,
  • set out the authorities of the Dehcho Government in relation to renewable resources, and
  • set out the process the parties would use during final agreement negotiations to identify settlement lands, finalize protected areas and update the Dehcho Land Use Plan.

3. Did the GNWT walk away from negotiations?

No. GNWT negotiators advised the Dehcho and federal negotiators that while offers were being exchanged and considered at the highest levels between the parties, main table negotiations should be temporarily suspended to allow the Dehcho First Nations time to consider the GNWT offer.

4. Does the GNWT offer treat the Dehcho First Nations fairly?

Yes. The GNWT believes its offer to the Dehcho First Nations is exceptionally fair and generous. The innovative approach developed by Dehcho and GNWT senior officials, if accepted, may be of great interest in other regions of the NWT and possibly in Canada.

The GNWT offer was informed by many years of negotiations, both bilateral with the Dehcho First Nations, and trilateral negotiations also involving Canada. The GNWT offer was also informed by the results of negotiations between senior officials from the Dehcho First Nations and the GNWT which the Grand Chief and I initiated. The GNWT offer builds on offers made by Canada in 2006 and 2007.

5. Where can additional information about the GNWT offer be found?

I have written each of the Dehcho First Nations Chiefs and Métis Local Presidents and provided them with the GNWT offer and details about how a generalized interest in the subsurface (instead of having settlement lands with subsurface title) can be incorporated into the draft Agreement in Principle. The GNWT has also offered to send senior officials and its negotiators to Dehcho communities to further explain the GNWT offer and answer questions.

6. What will happen if an agreement on the offer cannot be found?

If an agreement cannot be reached, to be respectful the GNWT believes that an honest and frank discussion about the impasse should occur among the parties’ leaders. If a solution to the impasse cannot be found, the parties will need to discuss what to do next, including alternatives to Dehcho Process negotiations, suspending negotiations for a period of time, or even considering whether to end or terminate Dehcho Process negotiations.

7. What does devolution have to do with Dehcho Process Negotiations?

Nothing.  Devolution cannot affect the rights of the Dehcho First Nations.  After devolution, just as before devolution, the GNWT has a strong interest in fairly resolving all questions around treaty rights and outstanding Aboriginal land claim agreements. The truth is, after devolution the GNWT increased the previous federal offer on land quantum for the Dehcho First Nations in addition to agreeing to new and innovative approaches to land and resource management.

8. What will happen next?

The GNWT will continue to work in good faith with the representatives of the Dehcho First Nations.  Progress, however, can only be made with frank and honest conversations. This means that we must be able to lay out the extent of what we can do, while still being fair to everyone.  





















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