The Sahtu Renewable Resources Board says two of its members, and the board's chair, are not in a conflict of interest when it comes to reviewing management plans for the Bluenose East caribou herd and will participate in hearings this week.   

The board's hearings begin March 1 on plans by Deline and the N.W.T. government to manage the declining herd. But other Sahtu communities have questioned the board's impartiality because some of its members helped create the plans they'll review.

Deline Chief Leonard Kenny, a board member, and Michael Neyelle, the board's chair, both worked on Deline's plan extensively. Board member Jeff Walker worked on the N.W.T. government's plan.

Colville Lake groups filed a motion saying the three are in a conflict of interest, and that the hearings should be postponed until alternate board members can be appointed. The motion was supported by groups in Norman Wells and Fort Good Hope. 

'Fair hearing'

"We wanted a fair hearing where everybody gets a chance and no one is in conflict," said Wilbert Kochon, Chief of Colville Lake.

"Some of the people might have worked on the plan and put the numbers in the quotas. We want everyone to get a fair hearing."

The Sahtu Renewable Resources Board's conflict of interest guidelines recognize that its board members are often employees or leaders in Sahtu or government organizations, and the Sahtu Dene and Métis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement states these members are not in a conflict of interest solely on that basis.

The board met last Thursday and decided the three members are not in a conflict of interest.

It decided that when Deline's plan is presented, Neyelle should step aside as chair, and that Neyelle, Kenny and Walker should not be part of the Deline or ENR panels presenting and taking questions on their plans.

They may remain in the room to hear the evidence and participate in the final deliberations.