The Northern Dene Trapper Alliance have been staying in trapper tents for the past 60 days, 10 km north of LaLoche, Saskatchewan along Hwy #955. They established the Camp on November 19, 2014 to show their grave concern over the amount of uranium and oilsands exploration that is taking place in their traditional trapping, hunting, and fishing areas. On November 22, 2014 they erected a checkpoint to prevent vehicles associated with this exploration from going through.
Saskatchewan Government sent a negotiator to the Camp in late November. On December 1, 2014 a dozen RCMP with their hands on their pistols and two video cameras rolling served them an injunction removed the barricade and a trailer from the side of the road. The people at the Camp are not going away. They have been keeping a presence despite the injunction.
More than a dozen exploration companies are cutting roads through the bush, establishing work camps, and drilling. The trappers and local people have been expressing their concern that all of this activity is disrupting their cultural way of life and seriously impacting their ability to get their traditional foods from the land which most people have to depend on to feed their families in a region where the cost of healthy food is high. This year there were very few moose to be found. The Saskatchewan Ministry of the Environment states in letters they have sent to the trappers that the impacts of this activity will be low, however when hunters and trappers tried to go out to set their traps in their permitted areas they were stopped by gates and security and told they couldn’t go there.
Recently Sask. Highways who also issued the Court Injunction ordered line-cutting along the highway. They gave a contract to Big Bear Construction owned by Chief Teddy Clarke of nearby Clearwater River Dene Nation which failed to notify trappers in the area of this activity. One Elder who has trapped in that area for most of his life had a dozen traps destroyed. This is just the beginning.
This is the second time that the promise of economic prosperity from uranium mining has come to the region. The Cluff Lake Mine operated in the area from 1980 – 2002. The economic prosperity never happened and the nearby communities who did experience mining employment also have noticed soaring cancer rates.
Many people in the region have gone to work in the Alberta Tar Sands and have seen first-hand the environmental devastation it has caused. They have learned from relatives in Fort McKay what the real cost of making deals with these companies is.
People do not want the benefits packages and are concerned that local leaders are accepting deals behind closed doors that are going to leave their beautiful lands and lakes a sacrifice zone that the children and ones yet to come will not be able to thrive on. NO! The jobs are not worth it.
So now these courageous people are holding the line between what we have where we could work towards a sustainable local economy or the devastation the Saskatchewan government and their resource extraction partners will wreak on our lands.
There will be a Big Meeting at the Camp on January 29, 30, 31. Every voice matters. It is time to assert strong stewardship for the sake of all generations to come.
You can follow and support here on the Holding the Ling-Northern Trappers Alliance Facebook Group Page