Elders reject nuclear waste storage in Northern Saskatchewan
SOUTH BAY, Sask. — The first-ever traditional Aboriginal gathering to be held in Saskatchewan exclusively on the issue of nuclear waste storage concluded recently with elders from Saskatchewan and neighbouring Alberta expressing unanimous rejection of proposals to establish a long-term nuclear waste storage facility in the region.
Hosted by the Committee for Future Generations in response to the elders’ increasing concern and call for solidarity in protecting the land, the Survival Celebration Camp for Sustainable Earth was held August 3 - 6 at South Bay on Ile-à-la-Crosse Lake in northern Saskatchewan, bringing participants from as far away as Montreal, Victoria and Germany.
An Elders’ Circle held during the camp brought together Dene, Cree and Saulteaux elders from across northern Saskatchewan and Alberta to express their thoughts and feelings about the prospect of nuclear waste storage in their region.
“All the elders are saying the same thing: that we don’t want anything to do with nuclear waste,” said Mary Jane Wolverine, a Dene elder from English River First Nation. Wolverine’s community represents one of the three northern Saskatchewan communities whose administration is in Phase 3 of site selection process with the Nuclear Waste Management Organization to host a deep geological repository for nuclear waste.
Two-hundred and fifty English River residents have already signed a petition against nuclear waste storage and transportation.
Another English River First Nation resident, Pat Campbell, voiced the urgency with which he believes his Grandfather, William Apesis, who was chief for over 30 years, would have wished him to act in protecting the land: “Our leaders today are being bought. We have to do something for the future. Our younger people, they’re listening to us.”
Ile-à-la-Crosse elder Jules Daigneault travelled to the camp by water in a hand-made skiff. “They (the Nuclear Waste Management Organization) keep waving money in our face to keep us quiet. I ask them, ‘What about our animals? What about our land? My land is my life.’ "
“We plan on holding the same event next year,” pledged Committee for Future Generations member and co-organizer Max Morin. “Only that one will be a celebration of victory in stopping nuclear waste from coming to this province.”