With the recent announcement that Fort Liard’s Aboriginal governments are one step closer to finalizing their land claim with the government, neighbouring First Nations are reminding officials that they still need to be consulted.
The Nahæâ Dehé Dene Band (NDDB) in Nahanni Butte and Sambaa K’e Dene Band (SKDB) in Trout Lake issued a press release last week to ensure that the parties to the recently signed agreement-in-principle (AiP) on lands and resources for Fort Liard invoke the court-ordered consultation process before finalizing anything.
Officials with the territorial government first announced they had signed an AiP with the Acho Dene Koe First Nation (ADKFN) and the Fort Liard Métis on Feb. 17. That agreement has now been sent to the federal government for signing.
While neither First Nation is opposing the general provisions of the AiP, both say they have outstanding issues with the agreement that should have been noted by the GNWT in its announcement.
“SKDB and NDDB do not oppose the essential provisions of the AiP but strongly oppose the proposed size and geographic extent of the settlement area as well as the selection of fee simple lands by ADKFN within the SKDB and/or NDDB primary land use areas,” the two bands said in a statement issued last week.
Previous legal action taken by the two First Nations in relation to the Fort Liard claim resulted in a 2012 court decision ordering the territorial and federal governments to consult with Aboriginal governments whose boundaries overlap those under negotiation for land claims.
Justice McTavish of the NWT Supreme Court ruled Canada has a duty to engage in “deep, meaningful and adequate consultation” with both SKDB and NDDB to accommodate their concerns with respect to ADKFN’s land claim.
The decision has been employed across the territory since the ruling was made, forcing lengthy consultations with the Akaitcho First Nations on the NWT Métis Nation claim over the past year.
The ADKFN agreement is part of phase one of the community’s comprehensive land claim process, which will see a land and resources agreement created for the community, followed by a self-government agreement in the second stage.
Self-government negotiations cannot begin until 10 years after the completion of the land claim, according to the framework agreement, signed in 2008.