Dene at Cold Lake Protection Camp Face Eviction

Dene Suline Given 48-Hour Court Notice to Vacate Peace Protection Camp at Berry Point in Cold Lake

 June 3, 2011

We the Dene Suline of Cold Lake AB, are currently in the 4th week of a move to stop development over our sacred burial grounds at English Bay near Cold Lake, Alberta (Berry Point). This area also holds very significant culturally-sensitive ceremonial places. The elders that have been present with us at Berry Point looked in dismay at the destructive practises of governments dealing with this so-called ”park.” Berry-picking areas were cleared off for camping and R.V stalls. Big machines were used on the top of places were 4000 year-old artifacts were found in 2008. At this site in May of 2011, members built a ceremonial sweat lodge and followed traditional protocol ongoing into the Summer and into the Fall.

On May 12th, 2011, we were granted an Interim Injuction to stop work in this area by Court of Queens Bench in edmonton AB. We could not agree to the court conditions that were attached because of spiritual protocol. At this time, June 3rd, 2011, the Dene Suline of Cold Lake were given a 48-hour notice to vacate the Berry Point camp at English Bay. Threats have been constant in our attempts to seek justice in a peaceful manner. We are asking all concerned to assist us in holding our position as inherent title holders to this very special place for the Dene Suline of Cold Lake, Alberta.

For more information contact Brian Grandbois at 780-812-6873.

Masi’ Cho

Dene Suline Members


Background Info and Articles

Dene Suline of Cold Lake First Nation halt the destruction of Sacred Land

The Dene Suline of Cold Lake First Nation (CLFN) Alberta have won an interim injunction to halt construction on campground improvements to be made on Sacred Land – Sacred Land that was being occupied by a “cultural camp” set up on May 6, 2011 by the Dene Suline to prevent the construction of an RV park on their traditional territory.

The interim injunction was granted by Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Don Manderscheid and will continue until the courts can hear an injunction application that was filed by the Cold Lake First Nations back on May 10, 2011. As part of the injunction, members of the cultural camp must remove all signs or blockades from the road into the campground and allow representatives of the Ministry of Tourism, Parks and Recreation to access the area.

“We’re not going to relinquish our access or our rights to this land,” said Chief Cecil Janvier. “We’re going to voice our opposition to their proposed development.”

The contested campsite in the English Bay Provincial Recreation Area, locally know as Berry Point, is on territory used by the Dene Suline for fishing, hunting and gathering medicines since time immemorial. The earth also cares for the bones of their ancestors buried in gravesites there. For these reasons, the area slated for construction holds tremendous cultural and historical significance for the CLFN.

On the location, a small campground has been operating since the 1950’s, which the Province of Alberta seeks to expand into a larger and more extensively developed campground suitable for large recreational vehicles (RVs).

The expansion project was stopped soon after it began in 2006, when historical artefacts were discovered on the land – some over 4,000 years old – which prompted a wider archaeological study of the site. The project received the go ahead again earlier this year.The Dene Suline of Cold Lake
Reasserting Aboriginal Title and Opposing the NATO War Machine
By Tintin Jones

The Primrose Lake Air Weapons Range (PLAWR) in Northern Alberta, Canada is a favored North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) playground, where numerous missiles, bombs, weapons and aircraft have been tested that are currently being used in the “War Against Terrorism.”

Since June 2001, the Dene Suline of Cold Lake have established a camp at the main entrance of the weapons range and are opposing the theft and destruction of their traditional territory to feed the war machine and the oil industry.

Since their earliest memories, the Dene Suline have lived peacefully on the land that is now the PLAWR. Through hunting, fishing, trapping and food gathering, the Dene Suline have sustained themselves as a people in the face of genocide from the Canadian government and NATO.

The Dene people live from northwestern Canada down to Black Mesa in Arizona. The US and Canadian governments and corporations have stolen their land, killed their people and forced the Dene onto reservations. Like the Dineh people at Big Mountain, the Dene Suline of Cold Lake have faced forced relocation.

The first Europeans on Dene Suline territory were Hudson Bay Company fur traders, and by 1867 a treaty, known as Treaty Number Six, was forced onto the Dene Suline. In 1952, the Canadian government, under the pretense of protecting the freedom and safety of Canada, stole the land encompassing PLAWR, land that was guaranteed to the Dene by treaty.

When this happened, the Dene Suline had a seven-day sit-in at Suckerville, on the shores of Primrose Lake, refusing to move until their land was returned. After heavy coercion from the government, a deal was made—a 20-year lease of 4,490 square miles for military use only, and after 20 years, it was to be returned or a new lease was to be renegotiated with the Dene Suline.

Before 1952, a large deposit of oil was discovered on their territory and by the early ’70s the technology had been developed to extract that oil. Since then, the oil companies, primarily Alberta Energy Corporation and Petro Canada, have been destroying the Earth in Dene Suline territory, taking billions of dollars worth of oil yearly and destroying the environment in the process. In recent years further developments in technology have made the extraction of oil in the tar sands possible and has increased oil potential in this region, which has more oil reserves than Saudi Arabia.

The voices of opposition from the Dene Suline have been ignored by the government. Not surprisingly, after the original 20-year lease was up, the government still maintained control over Primrose Lake and did not renegotiate the lease.

The territory of the Dene Suline is being bombed and decimated every day. Burial grounds, traplines and hunting and fishing grounds are destroyed by the greed of the oil industry and the bombs of the NATO war machine. Through residential schools, poverty, alcohol, destruction of the environment and forced assimilation, the government has tried to break the culture and strength of the people.

NATO, the War Machine and Native Territory

Many other indigenous nations on Turtle Island have seen the effects of the war machine’s testing on their territories. The Western Shoshone people in Newe Segobia, (Nevada), have suffered from massive nuclear testing on their territory. Many people have developed cancer and other illnesses and died from nuclear radiation and the destruction of the land and the sustenance it provides. Thousands of low-level planes fly over the territory of the Innu people in northeast Canada every year, negatively affecting their environment, food sources and culture.

In the 50 years since the Department of National Defense stole this land, Primrose Lake has become one of the largest airforce bases in the world. The “tomahawk” cruise missile was first tested at Primrose Lake, and then used in Iraq, Yugoslavia and now Afghanistan.

As a people who have lived close to the land for thousands of years, the Dene Suline are very aware of the impacts of NATO and PLAWR on their environment. They have seen an increase in disease both in humans and animals. Their lakes and rivers are being polluted by the waste of the oil industry and NATO bombs and missiles.

The ancient boreal forest around PLAWR is home to moose, elk, buffalo, timber wolves and bears. These animals are dying and being displaced by the bombardment of their habitat.

For six weeks every year at the PLAWR, more than 18 NATO countries use the range for “Operation Maple Flag” in which they test new laser and ballistic missiles and depleted uranium (DU) bombs. DU is the left over element from the fission of Uranium 235, which is used for fuel for weapons and nuclear reactors. DU contains alpha and beta emitters which cause damage to cells in the lungs, bones, kidneys, prostate, guts and brains eventually leading to cancer. Consequently, this DU contaminates the land, air and water for millions of years.

The “War Against Terrorism” is colonization in the 21st century, as more areas and countries are turned into US/Western military occupied zones, the environment is destroyed, the people are forced to give their oil to the hungry western market and assimilate their culture and economy into the world capitalist market place.

What NATO and Canada have done to the Dene Suline and their territory is what they want to do to the world. People have been lead to believe the “War Against Terrorism” is a war for freedom and democracy, to liberate Afghanis and other Muslims from repressive governments and radical fundamentalists. But the Talibans’ treatment and oppression of women and non-Muslims is no different than the Canadian treatment of the Dene Suline and other indigenous people on Turtle Island. As “Operation Enduring Freedom” continues, there is only going to be more genocide committed against the native people of Turtle Island and destruction of their territories in the name of military testing.

Dene Suline Resistance

For the past six months, the Dene Suline have asserted their aboriginal title and opposed the NATO war machine by reoccuppying their traditional territory at PLAWR. On June 3, 2001, the Dene Suline blocked the Alberta Energy Corporation (AEC) access road and the weapons range and established a camp there. They are re-asserting their title to their homelands by physically living on them, and by doing so, they are implementing the 1997 Delgamuukw Supreme Court decision, which affirms the inherent rights of native people in Canada.

On December 12, the government was able to pass through their next stage in theft of Dene land by working with the Band Council government to pass a referendum which gives the Dene $25.5 million and a measly 5,000 acres of land in exchange for the 4,500 square miles of their territory that encompasses the whole weapons range. This works out to only $35 an acre and $2,500 for each Cold Lake band member.

This deal was fast tracked past the people by the government and Band Council and little information was about alternatives to this deal. This deal reflects the current phase of genocide in Canada: The Canadian government works with Band Councils to make deals and settlements to “settle land questions.” For a people that have been oppressed for so long and suffer from chronic unemployment, alcoholism and poverty, the offer of money has an immediate short-term appeal and these deals are able to pass despite dissent from traditionalists and other members of the nation.

The Dene Suline are not giving up or backing down because of this latest tactic by the government. Around 20 people are still at the camp regularly (despite bitter Winter cold), and they recently finished building their first permanent cabin and are in the process of building more. Dene Suline Warriors are promising direct action against PLAWR, the government, Alberta Energy Corporation and anyone else in support of this deal. The Dene people have survived this long in the face of genocide and they will continue to fight to defend their territory against the humanitarian and environmental devastation of Canada, the oil industry and the NATO war machine.

“We need the world to look closely at this act of aggression. We need human rights and environmental groups as well as the peace/anti-war movements to act on their resolutions and defend the territories,” said Dene Warrior Brian X.

Posted on June 5, 2011, in Defending Territory and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. There has been a divide and conquer program involved in most of the recent “deals” struck by the Alberta Gov’t. The strategy has been to create splits with misinformed or badly represented people involved in creating a separate entity to overcome the resistence to programs of destruction. The best plan here is to recontact the elective authority and be sure the Chief who signed this deal was in authority and represented the entire population as it was then established. The next step is to find out exactly what the signatories negotiated and which irregularities there may have been in the closing deals for those who signed. If any bribery, misrepresentation exclusion ( please note many individuals had earned the right to be included as band members after the decision promoting the band memberships of women. They may not have been included.) and or issue has caused the program to be decided without legitimate proper consultation then this deal is void and must be renegotiated. If you can not achieve extentions, of the injunction, then another injunction for each issue, simply elect another chief among yourselves, and have those who are among you who have not been represented begin a second process. File a competing claim, and have it accelerated if possible.

    This has been done before and there is precedent. It was done to defeat the claimants in the other case,( Lubicon/Woodland Cree) here it can defeat those who would give away what is not theirs. It is too bad that this has been awaiting so long with the usage problems there. If possible the issue should be understood as separate from those of Turtle Island. There is a small homogenous Ojibwa group there from my understanding with Seaulteax ( Cree+ Ojibwa) relative bands scattered cross the prairies. The issue here is a very large mobile group. Summering and wintering over far stetches on the prairies with each encampment separated by not only bands but by alliances which had already created “new” pre-confederation linguistic groups ( If I am correct in assuming the Dene are the mixture of the original Lakota and Cree). This has been a technique used in the divide and conquer false settlement deals, those who were available were the signatories. If there have been some hunting fishing or other parties who have never been a part of this process then those groups can be separately seen. There are two issues then the first treaty six and the second bargain. Each one to be scrutinized and each to be effectively dealt with as this matter is delayed by injunction.


    Anne Fox

  1. Pingback: Key Environmental Conflicts | Oil and Gas Canada

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