The GNWT Department of Lands over the coming weeks will be putting notices on what it considers unauthorized cabins set up on Kátł’odeeche First Nation territory, according to a Facebook post made by the community, Nov. 18.

The post states that the KFN and territorial government have been working together to identify structures that have been set up on traditional lands without consent.

“KFN has been involved in respectful negotiations with the GNWT and has shared information about KFN owned or authorized cabins so that notices will not be put on these cabins,” reads the notice.

Peter Redvers, director of lands with KFN said in an interview on Nov. 19 that the issue of unauthorized cabins – or structures built on Indigenous lands without leases or traditional rights to do so – has been an ongoing problem across the Northwest Territories at least since the Devolution Agreement was signed in 2013.

That agreement included GNWT rights to take over land administration across the territory.

“So since devolution, that (unauthorized cabins) was one of the things that they (the GNWT) wanted to address,” he said. “So we’ve been working with them now for about three or four years on this issue and KFN has carried out its own inventory of cabins.”

Redvers estimated there are in and around 150 cabins documented on KFN territory – a large bulk of those, and likely the majority, are cabins authorized and recognized historically as owned by members.

“In terms of the remainder – which are rights holders versus those that are unauthorized – is still a subject for discussion,” he said.

A big reason for the notice is to raise awareness among members in case they receive a notice on their cabins in the coming weeks that they should not receive.

“On the one hand, KFN and the GNWT lands department are on this because neither one wants to have unauthorized cabins,” he explained. “But it’s also just a case of making sure that KFN members don’t unnecessarily receive notices posted on their cabins questioning their right to be there. We really want to avoid that.”

Any KFN member who receives a notice on their cabins to which they feel they shouldn’t have received, is asked to bring the notice into the community’s administration office.

At the moment, there is no protocol for people wanting to lease land on KFN territory who would otherwise not be members, however this is an issue being discussed, Redvers said.

“Right now there isn’t a protocol, but we have proposed and we’ve been sitting down with the GNWT, a confidential cabin management discussion paper. It’s also an item for negotiation under KFN”s what’s called the Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self Determination. Process.”

Lands department officials did not respond to questions from the Hub before press deadline.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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