Sabotage And Dirty Tricks Infuriate Metis And Dene Trappers In Saskatchewan

Dene trappers blocking road in northern Saskatchewan, November 2014.

Dene trappers blocking road in northern Saskatchewan, November 2014.

Trappers Resisting Oil Companies As Well As “Number one new uranium project in the world”

by Daniel Johnson, Media Coop, Jan 7, 2015

#HoldingThe Line Trappers in the far north part of Saskatchewan have been trying to protect their way of life for the past 6 ½ years against resource company expansion into their traditional trapline areas. They are licensed trappers with a legal right to hunt and trap in those areas, but legally this is counted only as ‘surface rights’ while the companies have been given ‘mineral rights’ which the Federal and Provincial governments consider more important.

The rush of resource company development has been accompanied by a ‘let it burn’ policy on forest fires, since forest fires only damage the ‘timber resources’, or ‘the forest’ as we call it, and this doesn’t effect the resources underground. The fires have destroyed cabins and annihilated much of the wildlife in the region, which is also  making it very difficult for trappers in the region to continue making a living.

The problem escalated in November 2014, when trappers near LaLoche started seeing helicopters following them out to their traplines, and then began finding access roads to their traplines blocked by locked gates.

The responded on November 19, 2014 by blockading the main highway 8 km north of LaLoche. The ‘checkpoint’ barricade allowed people who lived in the region to go back and forth, but blocked mining and oil company employees and equipment. Cenovus Energy got an injunction and the RCMP aggressively stepped in and removed the barricade. Since then, the trappers have camped by the side of the road, occasionally obstructing the companies without a full barricade, and have appealed for help from people across the country.

Soon it was discovered what kind of fight they have ahead of them.

The importance of this site was revealed in Fission Uranium’s release to investors from September 2014, shortly before they started directly harassing the trappers and trying to cut them off from their terrirotry. The report is titled “AN UNPRECEDENTED URANIUM DISCOVERY” and brags that the nearby Athabasca also area effected by the blockade is the new site of the “Number one new uranium project in the world” with uranium deposits that are “High Grade/Near Surface/Large Scale”.

Statements of support have come, along with some donations and fundraising actions, from groups like Idle No More, The Council Of Canadians, Earth First and Climate Ground Zero, but due to the remotess and extreme weather conditions of the community, it has proven difficult to organize support.

Elders without borders became involved, and a meeting has been arranged near the trappers blockade for the end of January with Saskatchewan government officials and others.

Another problem has been the ability of the companies and governments involved, as well as the maintream media, to play on and exacerbate tense divisions between First Nations and Metis people int he region.

Chief Ted Clark of the Clearwater First Nation in northern Saskatchewan is also the owner of Big Bear Contracting, and sits on the executive advisory board for Fission Uranium. Big Bear is currently contracted to Fission Uranium, listed in the release under the “Fission Teams Up With Community” list of local companies involved on page 18, and are also contracted to Cenovus, whose activities more directly effect the trappers.

So it is no suprise that Ted Clark has been an aggressive and vocal opponent of the trappers, especially when he was blocked from accessing the area himself by the trappers blockade in December. But recently he has escalated his attacks on them to a level nobody expected.

Recently an elder who supplements his pension income through trapping went to check his lines and found that they had been ripped up destroyed. Eventually, he came on a CAT tractor systematically destroying his trapline, driven by an employee of Big Bear Contracting, following orders from Ted Clark.

This is a provocation that simply can not be ignored.

The groups facebook post on Wednesday January 9th has called for anyone who is available to come join them in re-establishing the blockade next week.

“All able bodied men and women find a way to meet there this Sunday at 9am. We need to have people in place to stop this destruction. Bring warm clothes, what you can for food, and something to camp out in at night. We will all work together to execute the plan of action. BROTHERS AND SISTERS WE NEED YOU NOW!!”

More info and links:


Posted on January 8, 2015, in Mining and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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