Monday, November 24, 2008

Metlakatla optimistic that settlement with Port could come before the New Year

Only a few issues apparently stand in the way of a final settlement agreement between the Metlakatla Band and the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

The elected chief of Metlakatla Harold Leighton has updated the discussion stage thus far by suggesting that he is hopeful that all of the remaining issues will be addressed before the end of December.

Still unresolved between the two sides is the question of the environmental impact of the Ports phase two plans on the Metlakatla band, one of the key issues that has framed the debate for the bulk of this year.

Leighton outlined the situation thus far and his hopes for a settlement soon as part of an article in Monday's Daily News.

Metlakatla hopeful of progress
Band is expecting to move forward in talks with port authority
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Monday, November 24, 2008

Page one

Metlakatla elected chief Harold Leighton says he is optimistic there will be a settlement deal in place between the Metlakatla band and the Prince Rupert Port Authority by the end of the year.
Leighton made the comments after Prince Rupert Port Authority president and CEO Don Krusel met with the Metlakatla band on Tuesday during the band's annual general meeting.

Leighton said that while the process is really slow right now, there is a framework for a settlement that will hopefully guide the negotiations on settlement by the end of 2008.

"We have a settlement agreement that has actually been drafted but what goes into the agreement there is still some issues that are outstanding," said Leighton.

Issues still needing to be addressed include environmental questions over phase two over the port expansion.

Also on the table at the AGM was discussion about the recently signed protocol agreement reached by Metlakatla and other First Nations bands along with the City of Prince Rupert and the District of Port Edward.

Leighton mentioned that increasingly recognizing Tsimshian names for land, lakes and mountains is a key concern for Metlakatla, as it is with many First Nation bands.

"Recognizing the territory - whose territory it is when you enter the city, that's on the agenda of communities and municipalities and it's also an issue that is being dealt with by municipalities at treaty negotiation tables," said Leighton.

He said it was really important to recognize the historical importance of traditional geographical names.

"It's been always a priority of the Elders that we bring those names back," said Leighton.

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