History of Akaitcho process
- Treaty 8. The Crown entered into an agreement of peace and friendship known as Treaty 8 with the ancestors of Salt River and Tthebatthie Dene at Smith’s Landing in 1899 and the Lutsel K’e Dene, the Yellowknives (Weledeh) Dene, and Deninu K’ue Dene in Fort Resolution (Deninu K’ue) in 1900. Throughout the Treaty making process the Akaitcho Dene never ceded, released, or surrendered interests or title of their lands to the Crown. Akaitcho Dene did not extinguish their inherent rights to their territory.
- Dene/Metis Secretariat was established to negotiate Comprehensive Claims for the all Dene of the NWT. A Comprehensive Claim included negotiations and settlement for both land and self government.
- Prior to the establishment of the Dene/Metis Secretariat, Thomas Berger recommended to the Government of Canada that should not build the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline until the Dene settled their land claims and self-government. Berger conducted a year long inquiry across the NWT listening to the Dene and their concerns.
- The Berger Inquiry came about as a result of Francois Paulette’s Case against the Government of Canada. Paulette argued that the Dene did not extinguish their rights to land and resources. Paulette won the case against Canada.
- 1990 Dene/Metis Agreement. The Dene/Metis negotiators along with representatives from the Territorial and Federal governments, reached an Agreement in Principle (AIP). However, the Akaitcho Treaty 8 Elders rejected the 1990 Dene/Metis AIP as the elders did not support extinguishing their Treaty.
- Chief Negotiator. Bob Overvold was the Chief Negotiator for Akaitcho First Nations during this time.
- Treaty 8 Tribal Corporation was established on May 14, 1992. Akaitcho Treaty 8 elders instructed their Chiefs to settle with the Crown all outstanding issues in Treaty 8. The negotiations and settlement are to be based on the Dene historical and oral version of Treaty 8.
- Negotiations begin. Akaitcho Dene First Nations: Lutsel K’e, Deninu K’ue, Yellowknives, Smith’s Landing, and Salt River First Nations begin negotiations with the Crown.
- Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE). After the failed 1990 Dene/Metis AIP, the Akaitcho Dene First Nations decided to pursue TLE negotiations. A TLE settlement is an exchange of land for cash. All program and services would remain under federal and territorial government jurisdiction.
- Protocol Agreement. In 1994 the Akaitcho First Nations signed a Protocol Agreement. The agreement laid out the groundwork and Treaty goals to pursue a TLE settlement for the First Nations.
- Canada and Government of Northwest Territories (GNWT) Offer. Canada and GNWT placed an offer on the table, however, the land and cash component was not enough, and it meant extinguishing the Treaty.
- Break up of Akaitcho First Nations. The Protocol Agreement was not implemented. Salt River and Smith’s Landing First Nations decided to purse the TLE and broke away from Akaitcho Treaty 8 negotiations. Lutsel K’e, Deninu K’ue, and Yellowknives Dene First Nations remained and decided to continue with a new approach to negotiations. Salt River and Smith’s Landing are now reserve land.
- Chief Negotiator. Chief Negotiator Bob Overvold resigns, and Roy Erasmus becomes the new Chief Negotiator for the Akaitcho negotiations file.
- New Approach to Treaty Implementation. With the failed Protocol Agreement, the Liberal Government invited Akaitcho First Nations to submit their view of Treaty implementation. Remaining Akaitcho First Nations decided to create a document called Coexistence: Implementing the Spirit and Intent of Treaty within the Akaitcho Territory. The Coexistence document would outline a proposal to settle outstanding Treaty issues.
- Framework Agreement. Akaitcho First Nations, Canada, and the GNWT signed a Framework Agreement on July 25, 2000. The Framework Agreement outlined the approach for negotiations, and subject matters to be negotiated – Land, Resource Revenue, Economic Measures, and Taxation.
- Chief Negotiator Resigns. Chief Negotiator Roy Erasmus resigned, and Sharon Venne was appointed to the Akaitcho negotiations file.
- Canada/GNWT Offer. Government placed an offer on the table for land, cash and royalties, however, Akaitcho First Nations refused the offer.
- City Land Withdrawals. Akaitcho First Nations negotiated land withdrawals with City of Yellowknife and GNWT.
- Tli Cho boundary dispute resolved. The Federal government previously allowed the Tli Cho to select land within Akaitcho Territory without the consent or consultation of Akaitcho First Nations. As a result, Akaitcho First Nations pursued legal action to resolve boundary issues.
- Interim Land Withdrawals. Akaitcho First Nations negotiated interim land withdrawals with Canada.
- Draft Agreement in Principle (AIP). The Chief Negotiator along with each Community Negotiators and Akaitcho First Nations completed a Draft AIP for review by Crown and GNWT. Various elements in Draft AIP were not agreed to by Crown and GNWT, however, it would be the basis for moving forward. Much work was needed.
- BCR passed. Each of the Akaitcho Dene First Nations leadership passed BCR move forward with the Draft AIP and continue negotiations.
- Termination of Chief Negotiator. Chief Negotiator was let go from Akaitcho negotiations file.
- New Chief Negotiator. Don Balsillie was appointed by Akaitcho Dene First Nations leadership to negotiations file.
- Canada Revised Offer. A revised offer was submitted to Akaitcho Dene First Nations however, the offer was rejected by Akaitcho Dene First Nations.
- Devolution Agreement. The GNWT signed the Devolution Agreement with Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Northwest Territory Metis Nation, Sahtu Secretariat Inc., Gwichin Tribal Council, and the Tli Cho Government. Lutsel K’e and Yellowknives Dene First Nations did not sign onto the Devolution Agreement, however, Deninu K’ue signed onto the Devolution Agreement.
- Assessment of Akaitcho Negotiations. On July 2016, the Federal and Territorial government hired Mr. Thomas Isaac to assess Akaitcho negotiations.
- Akaitcho Dene First Nations Submit Counter Proposal. Akaitcho Dene First Nations submitted a counter proposal to Canada on July 18, 2016.
- Canada submitted a Counter offer. Akaitcho negotiators team review counter offer.
- Community Updates. Akaitcho negotiations team visited each Akaitcho DeneFirst Nations to present latest counter proposal by GNWT in the form of a Generalized Interest Concept (GIC).
- Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Ducks Unlimited. MOU for funding for land use planning.
- Land Use Plan Approval. Akaitcho First Nations plan to move forward with land use planning in each community. Land use plans will determine how the lands will be used according to input from community members. Akaitcho Dene input is necessary throughout this process.
- Community Engagement. Community engagement sessions will be conducted in each community to help raise knowledge of Akaitcho negotiations. All Akaitcho members are encouraged to participate and get involved in making history for Akaitcho Dene.
- Governance Workshops. Governance workshops has taken place at various times of the year going forward. These workshops will help inform how Akaitcho Dene manage and govern themselves.
- Counter Offer. Akaitcho Dene First Nations along with negotiations team are preparing a counter offer for Canada.
- Prime Minister Announcement: The Prime Minister Trudeau announced on February 14, 2018 that the Government of Canada would create a Recognition and Implementation of Rights Framework.
- Draft AIP Complete. Chief Negotiators for GNWT, Federal Government, and Akaitcho First Nations reach a Draft AIP.
- Akaitcho First Nations Chiefs and Council to review Draft AIP.
- Land identification and selection process. Each Akaitcho First Nation must identity Dene Title lands within the Akaitcho Territory. Extensive workshops will be conducted on land selection process in each Akaitcho First Nations communities.
- Approval of AIP. Once all parties agree with AIP and initial document, only then community consultations can begin in each community on all chapters. A summary will explain each chapter in lay mans terms. The AIP at this stage is NOT a final document.
- Land Use Planning On-going. Land use planning will continue throughout the year till until each individual First Nations completes data collection process.
- Governance Framework. A governance framework would be created to guide discussions on governance.
- Governance Model/Agreements. Governance models and agreements will be negotiated and created for various programs and services, and other self government matters going forward.
- Land Use Plan Process Complete. The process for land use planning should be completed for each individual Akaitcho Dene First Nations.
- Regional Land Use Plan. A regional land use plan will be created based on data gathered during individual First Nations land use plan process. Once the Regional Land Use Plan is completed, it is NOT a final plan.
- Negotiations for Regional Land Use Plan. Once the Regional Land Use plan is completed, negotiations with GNWT and Federal government begins on the regional land use plan. All parties must agree to Regional Land Use Plan.
- Governance Workshops. Governance workshops will continue throughout year in each Akaitcho Dene First Nation communities.
2021 to Future
- Community Consultations on Agreement. Extensive community consultations will take place in each Akaitcho First Nations communities.
- Ratification of Akaitcho Agreement. Akaitcho Dene are expected to vote on Final Agreement.
- Implementation Process. Self government implementation process begins. (10-year process).