Lutsel K’e accuses GNWT of bullying on devolution

Lutsel K’e accuses GNWT of bullying on devolution
The Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation is accusing the GNWT of using the promise of resource revenues as a political weapon to pressue First Nations into signing the devolution agreement.Leslie Philipp.

The Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation is demanding a fair share of resource revenues for the community regardless of whether or not it signs on to devolution.

Chief Dora Enzoe sent a letter to NWT Premier Bob McLeod last week accusing the government of using the promise of resource revenues as a “weapon to inflict political pressure and influence” over First Nations in the territory.

She said LKDFN deserves a place at the intergovernmental forum between Aboriginal governments and the GNWT after devolution even if they do not sign on to the devolution agreement.

As it stands, only Aboriginal governments party to the devolution agreement are allowed to access a piece of the 25 per cent of resource revenues promised to them and be part of the forum.

Enzoe said the First Nation is worried that revenues due to their membership for developments on their lands will be withheld or given away to others instead, which she called “wrong and unethical.”

“The Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation will not be pressured into supporting the Devolution Agreement. We fundamentally object to the manner in which devolution and resource revenue sharing is being implemented, and to the pressure which is being brought to bear on us to either ‘sign on’ or ‘step aside’ as these fundamental changes occur,” she wrote in the letter to McLeod.

“Resource revenues should not be deployed as a weapon to inflict political pressure and influence. They are not your government’s to hand out according to your whim, rewarding those who agree with you and punishing those who do not.

These revenues are largely derived from developments on our lands, and your government must be accountable for their fair distribution to our people. We demand our fair share.”

Enzoe said LKDFN has outstanding concerns about devolution, namely that the process is negatively impacting the First Nation’s ongoing negotiations with the federal government on their unfinished land claim.

She said the First Nation is open to working with the GNWT in “good faith” in the future.

Requests to the premier for comment were unsuccessful.

Lutsel K’e is a member of the Akaitcho First Nations, who alongside the Dehcho First Nations are the last to remain outside of the devolution agreement.

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