An initial agreement between the Deh Cho First Nations and the Government of Canada that could have blocked the development of the $4 billion (Cdn.) Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipeline project was signed April 17.

A key piece of the Deh Cho Process Interim Resource Development Agreement is the removal of over 70,000 square kilometres of Deh Cho land from future mineral exploration and an addition of 4,828 square kilometres to the Nahanni National Park.

An estimated 210,000 square kilometres of territory will remain subject to development.

The Deh Cho also gained a concession that will see them paid an amount equal to royalties from oil and gas production in the Mackenzie Valley collected by Ottawa, a percentage of which is slated for economic stimulation projects.

An Order-in-Council, similar to an Executive Order in the United States, has also granted the Deh Cho control over how their land is developed.

“In the vision of our ancestors, we will continue to walk the path with governments, a journey of trust and mutual respect in our negotiations,” said Deh Cho Grand Chief Michael Nadli.