Dene ask Federal Court to order Minister Bennett back to the table
WINNIPEG, July 11, 2019 – Two days before the 20th anniversary of the start of negotiations to recognize Denesuline rights within their traditional territories in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, Sayisi Dene First Nation and Northlands Denesuline First Nation have been forced to file an Application for Judicial Review of Minister Carolyn Bennett’s decision shutting down negotiations.
The Denesuline and Canada were on the verge of initialing a land claim agreement. Then on June 12, 2019, without warning, the Minister put off signing and claimed more consultation was required with Indigenous peoples in NWT. At the negotiating table, Canada had previously agreed to initial the agreement while these NWT talks continued.
After a public demonstration in Ottawa on June 19, 2019 and nearly a month of repeated requests, Minister Bennett has refused to meet or explain her action. The court application was filed to meet a legal deadline.
The human cost attributable to nearly 20 years of negotiation has been magnified by the Minister’s recent decision. The incredible patience displayed by the Denesuline during these protracted negotiations is running out. What was hope only a few short months ago has been replaced with cynicism. Minister Bennett appears to be insensitive to the profound hurt and disappointment she has caused.
“Our people deserve to be treated with respect. I am hopeful that Minister Bennett will resume negotiations and allow the land claim agreement to move to community ratification. After all we have heard from Prime Minister Trudeau about reconciliation and the Nation to Nation relationship, not moving forward before this government’s mandate is over would be a big step backwards for reconciliation,” said Chief Tony Powderhorn of Sayisi Dene First Nation.
For further information: CONTACTS: Arne Peltz, Legal Counsel, Sayisi Dene First Nation and Northlands Denesuline First Nation, 250 884 9884, firstname.lastname@example.org