Northern Dene Trappers Alliance Vows to Stand Vigil Indefinitely
On January 29 -31, 2015 about 150 people participated in the Big Meeting held in the Trapper’s tent beside Highway #955. Conspicuously absent were the local leaders and representatives of the Saskatchewan Government. Richard Turkheim of Government Relations sent a tersely worded letter late in the day January 28, 2015 stating they are only willing “to meet with representatives of your group” under their terms behind closed doors not at the roadside camp. The only leader who accepted the invitation to attend was Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the AMC who spoke clearly that “each time one man or woman is raised up above another it creates imbalance and violence.”
For the first time since the signing of Treaty, all people in attendance had an opportunity to have their voices heard. There was overall a consensus that people do not want any more destruction of lands and waters in Dene Neneh. The people shared their knowledge of the land and the effects that all this mineral exploration is having on the land, water and animals. They expressed grave concerns for the health and well-being of future generations if these developments are carried on to fruition. They learned how other Dene Bands have been impacted by the deals with resource development to the point where they have no access to any of their traditional lands, the gravesites of their ancestors or their sacred sites and how the contamination of their water is the new genocide that these industries pay regulators to deny.
“The realization that government is not there for the people but is only interested in protecting the interests of the oil and uranium industries led people towards focusing on creating solutions for themselves that are based on Denesuline values. There will be a move to continue reoccupying Dene Neneh. Since many people have moved into townsites for the sake of education for their children work will begin on creating land-based distance education so people can live on the lands year round. The work now begins. There will be an effort to raise awareness and support and solidarity throughout the land. Overall the Dene Trappers Alliance and the people who continue to show support to them have said enough of all this colonial-imposed environmental destruction. It is our REAL JOB to protect these lands for ALL peoples’ future generations.” declared Chris Park.
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