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This article was published 30/8/2010 (4286 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Selinger goverment has agreed to co-manage sacred aboriginal sites in Whiteshell Provincial Park with the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation.
A tentative deal was reached Monday between Brokenhead chief Debra Chief and council and Conservation Minister Bill Blaikie.
The agreement seems to permanently remove the threat of a blockade of the Whiteshell that Brokenhead had issued last week.
"We're making progress, so there is no threat of a blockade," Blaikie said following the meeting.
"We agreed to work together on a proposal for co-management of the petroform sites and to try to make that happen as soon as possible."
"I have agreed to go ahead and have a further meeting and work on a proposed co-management agreement," Chief said.
The Monday morning meeting was hastily arranged by Blaikie last week in a bid to avoid a Labour Day weekend blockade of the Whiteshell by Brokenhead after the province rejected four parcels of land that the First Nation had selected in the park as compensation under the Treaty Land Entitlement process.
Chief said the threat of a blockade was a move to get the province to the bargaining table, but added it seems unnecessary now so long as the talks to lead to an agreement.
The Treaty Land Entitlement process allows affected First Nations in Manitoba to select Crown land as compensation for being shortchanged when the Indian reserves were established.
Brokenhead had selected four parcels in the Whiteshell, sites recognized as sacred aboriginal land containing petroforms -- ancient rock illustrations believed created by aboriginal people for ceremonial purposes.
Brokenhead was concerned that the sites weren't being maintained properly and that there have been lost opportunities to explain the cultural and spiritual significance of the sites to both aboriginal and non-aboriginal people.
Chief said that in addition to securing access to the site for her people, Brokenhead also wants to consider tourism opportunities.
"We have an interest as our ancestors had in that land, for spiritual reasons, for sacred reasons, and we hope to be able to be part of that site," Chief said.
In a joint news release following the meeting, both sides said that the co-management agreement does not prejudice Brokenhead's selections of the same sacred sites as new reserve land under the Treaty Land Entitlement process.
Blaikie said a co-management agreement on the petroform sites had been long overdue.
"There's been a lot of back and forth over this over the years and we hope that we can set something in motion that will actually bear fruit," Blaikie said.
Blaikie said he'll meet with Chief and the Brokenhead council again in September to lay the groundwork for the agreement.