Premier Floyd Roland is set to sign the controversial devolution agreement today, regardless of the amount of support coming from aboriginal leaders.
The agreement-in-principle will be signed in conjunction with the federal government, and sets the terms for transferring Canada’s authority over NWT land and resources to the territorial government.
But aboriginal leaders in the NWT are not supportive of the agreement-in-principle, or the fact that Roland is going to go ahead with the signing regardless.
“We have major concerns,” said Dene First Nation Regional Chief Bill Erasmus on Monday.
Aboriginal leaders were meeting in Yellowknife to discuss the Premier’s plans.
“We don’t want this signed unless there are changes,” he said.
Erasmus said that according to the document, the only way to participate in later discussions for the devolution agreement is to sign the agreement-in-principle, but by signing it, it means all are in agreement.
“We need to make it known to the government that as aboriginal people we are not happy,” he said.
A letter was to be sent out on Tuesday to the ministers involved asking for changes to be made to the document, the same day a technical briefing was scheduled to enlighten the media on what the signing will mean for the NWT.
A document sent out by the GNWT on Monday outlined points to be covered during the briefing, including the statistic that up to 350 new GNWT jobs would be created, including up to 175 new jobs in the North. It also stated that NWT residents would finally have the authority to make decisions about the way NWT Crown lands are used, how the economy is developed and the way the environment is protected.
However, the agreement as written is between the federal government and the territorial government, Erasmus said.
“We can’t sign it because it does not reflect the future of the North,” he said.
“It will not have the support of the aboriginal people in the Northwest Territories.”
Roland was unavailable for comment as of press time.