A federal negotiator was asked to leave a meeting with N.W.T. chiefs and leaders in Yellowknife Wednesday.
The chiefs asked John Pollard to leave before the meeting even began, when leaders asked for more time to come to a consensus.
The chiefs and the negotiator were meeting to discuss the federal government’s plan to create a 'superboard' for the territory – an amalgamation of the territory’s three smaller land and water boards.
The more than 30 chiefs, elders and northern leaders said the federal government only gave them one week to prepare for the meeting. Also, there were no interpreters or working sound system.
"We come to this point and time where we are on a verge of being told that they have drafted legislation to do amendments, and it causes a great concern and a big problem right now. And we're very angry and we're very frustrated with this government because they show no respect for us," said Liidlii Kue First Nation chief Jim Antoine.
Antoine said the group feels the federal government has not properly consulted with aboriginal groups on the amalgamation plan, and he feels their rights are being overlooked.
"We feel this is a flawed process on behalf of the aboriginal people. We're not taken seriously. We're back in the old colonial days where a power from Ottawa is telling us what to do with no respect for our treaty rights," he said.
Antoine says the separate land and water boards are something aboriginal groups fought hard for during their land claim negotiations and they won't give them up without a fight.
Negotiator welcomed back later
Pollard was welcomed back to the meeting in the afternoon, but logistical problems remained.
Elders, who yelled through the shoddy sound system, chastized the negotiator and said they had had enough of the federal government making changes to the boards without further discussion.
"An agreement is made between two people, not one," said northern leader Ethel Blondin-Andrew.
Although there was anger at the lack of reconciliation between Ottawa and the N.W.T. groups, the territory’s premier said the answer to the problem is straight-forward.
"If you are looking at straight business investment, well the facts are the facts. Business investment is going to Yukon, Nunavut at the expense of the Northwest Territories. And so we have to find a way to deal with that," said Bob McLeod.
"But that's not the only solution – the other solutions are to settle land claims, settle self-government agreements, and provide for devolution."