Protesters remain near Cold Lake

No action taken as eviction deadline passes in campground-expansion dispute, province says

By Ryan Cormier, Edmonton Journal June 8, 2011

A court-ordered deadline for members of the Dene Suline people to leave a Cold Lake protest camp has passed with no eviction action, according to the Alberta government. Since May 6, about 20 members of the community have been camped at the English Bay Provincial Recreation Area to stop the expansion of a provincial campground they say infringes on traditional land.

Construction has been on hold for weeks because of an interim injunction from Court of Queen’s Bench. The protesters have been living in tents. They have not blocked roads or access to the area. A court order approved Friday and filed Monday specified that the protesters must vacate by 4: 30 p.m. Tuesday. An hour before the deadline, an Alberta Aboriginal Relations spokeswoman said there was no government plan to evict the group. “We’re wait and see what they do at 4: 30, but we’re still hoping things can be decided through meetings and negotiation rather than enforcement,” Lisanne Lewis said. After the deadline, protesters could not be reached to confirm their status. Earlier in the day, protester Carrie Lawrence said there has been no police enforcement, though they visit the site daily. “All we’re doing right now is making sure peace is maintained out there,” RCMP Staff Sgt. Rob Cunningham. “There hasn’t been a need for anything more.” While protesters don’t want to leave, Lawrence said, they don’t know what they will do if ordered to move. “We’ll have to reach a consensus and move on from there.” The contested campground has existed since the 1950s, but the provincial government began work on expanding and redeveloping the area in 2006. The original redevelopment was stopped soon after it began, when historical artifacts were found. The redevelopment was on hold until earlier this year, when Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation got the go-ahead to continue. “This is the area where we hold ceremony, where we gather berries and traditional medicines, it holds the gravesites of my ancestors.” Lawrence said. “We have erected this peace camp to ensure we can continue to practise our spiritual, cultural and treaty rights. Rights are m ore important than RVs.” Greenpeace and the Sierra Club support the Dene Suline people. The campground is about 40 kilometres north of Cold Lake. A court hearing on the issue is expected in late July.

Posted on July 11, 2011, in Defending Territory and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Tansi,

    There is development and then there is development. The natural sate of the area need not be disturbed if there can be a wild-life sanctuary and the making of a possible guided tour area to introduce park goers to the First nations culture of the area in smaller less intrusive groups. Cultural landmarks and grave sites can be preserved. The respect for the area in a united decision for it’s use will be the solution. The use of this area in a usual style of park development would be a travesty to the area’s natural beauty and to the traditional uses and cultural sites. The need to preserve this for the traditional usage by only a specified population is the best and most ideal for everyone. The introduction to heritage sites via an interpretive center can accomplish the goal of preservation and combined usage on a very small scale.

    Hunting and trapping are the main use along with ancestral burial grounds. This must be priority. However there are sometimes trails which can be accessed without the use of ATV or motorized vehicles but on horse-back or in winter with ski-doos when necesary for access off trail in trapping ( reduced traffic) In the case where a route with minimal disturbance to the surrounding natural area is already used and a set of guides from the scheduled interpretive center a small group can be given a view for camera trips through the smaller area with a trail marked and a known route in order that traditional use in areas not marked by the trail and scheduled during off seasons.

    The harvesting of game in that area and control of the wild-life may lend usage in a part of the area to cariboo herding if the people like that idea and it is natural to the area.

    The issue of creating a usage plan which is desirable for the people and is culturally compatible to the needs in only done when the First nations who have a land claim to that area have dealt first with their claim. Otherwise this is First Nations land to be decided by the members in terms of their needs. No development of any kind can take place until that claim is settled. It is then that the people who are the indigenous population and who have traditional hunting and fishing rights can make a decision if their claims are already settled to allow the limited access next door to the cultural preservation area, which can house the interpretive center. The guides who work in the center must be those who have been trained hired and evaluated by the group. If that route can be taken.

    Hunting and trapping in the traditional style which is a harvesting type of use has to be in use. The culling of herds and the use of a culturally based management style in this site can be undertaken by the traditional users, with support services in office and training for their selected game wardens in the area to the federal crown land management services. Administrative support can be used or funded in that way. The security of the cultural preservation site is then assured.

    The International Treaty obligations of the federal government can first be met , then a contractual arrangement for cultural usage can be a shared responsibility.

    There are three types of methods which can be used to support the agreements. Expansion of a park in the method which is usual for Canada in national parks development is not an effective option. This has to be made clear. Other national parks have a history of expansionism and encroachment. The uses become too wide and the control of predators and issues in the control of the wild-life and their entry onto nearby development has been a problem. This site can be effectively managed with historical experiences in mind. The animal population controls in grissly hysteria and their hunting to near extinction, the issues in wolf control and their control at Yellowstone in the USA, the creation of extinction of any genus ( Buffallo/Bison) in a species and reintroductions, the issues in the creation of human contact problems.

    Traditional trapping is done with a line placed strategically in an area which creates a control of population growth. In places where the population of animals which should have been harvested are instead left to their own devices the animals give predators too large of a feed base. As one example…The entire ecology of the area is then disrupted and unmanaged. The use of cultural guides would allow the least intrusive forms of introduction of those who would like to see the lands preserved in a ecologically careful and respectful manner.

    Spirituality and cultural usage is the taking of animals respectfully and their harvest for food and for need is an unintrusive method of preservation with the issue of surrounding human contact factored into the equation. Creating a stable environment is the stuff of many years of use with little impact on the ecological landscape by design. Plant harvesting is done in the same way making a more verdant and clean environment. Wetlands in trapping areas are of the utmost importance in this. Impacts by surrounding use can then be both mitigated and minimized in a cultural preserve area. The contained program is the best solution when the lands are a feature of the parks neighboring and not an addition with the same errors in development which have proven to be destructive and open to a program of over-development, experimentation or waste.

    Strict monitoring or sampling is not the same type of experimentation done in forestry in Ontario with the use of agent orange etc. The best ideal is control based on the superior land management techniques which guide a respectful and long acquired love of the area. This is said to support the making of a consensus by the First Nations which are the original inhabitants of the area.

    I hope this adds to the discussion and may be of interest.

    Point Of View:
    I am from the Michael Callihoo ( Calliou) Band and I am interested in the traditional hunting and fishing as seen and as done by friends and relatives. Burial sites are preserved as grave yards must be for all people in the traditional ways of my people. I support the use of markers or monuments non-disturbance, and histories of the area with family backgrounds of those interred there. An interpretive center within the bounds of effective cultural preservation and displays on the local First Nations specialized traditions and customs. I think some times the conservation sites can be the best way of bringing the history to life.
    There are sites in Saskatchewan which appear to achieve this goal.


    Anne Fox

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