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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 August, 2003, 10:53 GMT 11:53 UK
Canada signs aboriginal land deal
Chief Phil Fontaine at Assembly of First Nations in Vancouver in 1999
Canada's indigenous groups have negotiated for many years
The Canadian Government has signed an agreement with an indigenous group of native aboriginies granting them territory nearly the size of Switzerland.

The deal, which was signed by Prime Minister Jean Chretien and leaders of the Tlicho Nation group, creates the largest single block of land owned by the Tlichos.

It will give them the chance to exploit the natural resources of the territory, including Canada's two diamond mines.

They will also create a territorial government which will be responsible for health and education issues.

The deal sees the Tlicho Nation - formerly the Dogrib First Nation - assume control over 39,000 square kilometres (15,210 square miles) of land between Great Slave and Great Bear lakes in northern Canada.

"What we see today is that in spite of the evolution of society, you have kept your culture and pride," said Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

"This is the glory of Canada - we can be what we are and at the same time be part of the greater Canada."

Law-making powers

Four Dogrib aboriginal communities will elect councillors and chiefs.

The chiefs and some councillors will form the Tlicho government to oversee the entire area.

The federal government will retain control of criminal law and the Northwest Territories government will keep powers over services such as health and education.

Tlicho laws will not be allowed to conflict with laws passed by other governments.

The Dogrib are one of five tribes of the Dene people of northern Canada.




SEE ALSO:
Canada's troubled native children
31 Jul 02  |  Americas
Quebec Indians agree dam deal
24 Oct 01  |  Americas


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