N.W.T. gov't will negotiate directly with Tłı̨chǫ on future infrastructure projects

The new agreement brings to an end a war of words over the territory’s procurement process for projects on Indigenous territory.

New agreement brings to end war of words over procurement process

Tłı̨chǫ Grand Chief George Mackenzie at the 2019 Tłı̨chǫ annual gathering in Gameti, N.W.T. Mackenzie has been outspoken about the need for local contracts to be awarded to Tłı̨chǫ companies. (Walter Strong/CBC)

The N.W.T. government will now negotiate directly with Tłı̨chǫ businesses for infrastructure projects on Tłı̨chǫ territory, according to a news release sent Friday.

Tłı̨chǫ Grand Chief George Mackenzie had called the government's public tender process for the projects "an insult" after several major infrastructure projects were awarded to non-Indigenous firms.

The release says the new agreement could become a "turning point" in the treaty relationship between the territory and the Tłı̨chǫ government.

"The [territorial government] signed a treaty with the Tłı̨chǫ and Canada that promised to help Tłı̨chǫ become self-sufficient," Mackenzie is quoted as saying. "We took up the fight over this project because it is essential for our people to share in the wealth and economy of the N.W.T."

The agreement also includes a new commitment from RTL Construction, the company controversially awarded the contract to build a new access road between Behchokǫ̀, N.W.T., and Highway 3.

The company has agreed 25 per cent of the labour will be performed by the Tłı̨chǫ​​​​​​​ Investment Corporation, which will employ Tłı̨chǫ​​​​​​​ citizens on the project.

The joint release from the two governments said the territory "takes seriously its role as a treaty partner."

"This agreement will ensure that there is a clear understanding of the [government's] approach to procurement in the region," Premier Caroline Cochrane is quoted as saying.