Dene Nation opposes passage of revised wildlife act
For Immediate Release
August 24th, 2011
The Dene Nation is insisting that the revised NWT Wildlife Act not be passed in the Legislative Assembly. The revised Act has met staunch opposition from Dene and other residents of the territory, and some proposed amendments in the Act may negatively impact on Treaty and Aboriginal rights. These concerns were reflected in a motion passed by Dene leadership on July 14th, 2011 at the 41st Dene National Assembly in Fort Providence, which called for consultation and accommodation with Dene on proposed amendments that could impact Treaty and Aboriginal rights.
"The Dene Nation has serious concerns about the territorial government managing caribou and other wildlife, as many of these species are culturally relevant and are important to the survival of Dene," said Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus. "These efforts by the territorial government to control and manage wildlife species are an attempt to take authority away from Dene in the communities, and this is tantamount to a violation of Treaty and Aboriginal rights."
There is particular concern that changes to the Act could impact the Treaty rights of Akaitcho and Deh Cho Dene, who have not yet completed land claim negotiations.
"Dene are still at the negotiating tables to clarify their Treaty and Aboriginal rights through land and self-government agreements," Erasmus said. "The Wildlife Act must fully recognize the rights of Treaty 8 and Treaty 11 beneficiaries to manage wildlife through appropriate processes. In addition, the proposed wildlife act would prevail over existing land claim agreements and self-government agreements if there was a conflict in law. The existing constitutionally entrenched agreements need to be recognized and implemented."
The Dene Nation is insisting that Members of the Legislative Assembly vote down the revised Act, as Dene and other territorial residents have made it clear - in meetings with the Standing Committee on Economic Development and in other venues – that they do not support the proposed changes.
In revising the Wildlife Act, the territorial government must work with Dene to identify proposed amendments that infringe on Treaty and Aboriginal rights and to change these amendments appropriately.
For more information please contact: Barret Lenoir, at the Dene National Office (867) 873-4081