A northern Manitoba First Nation leader is being criticized for accepting money from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) and some are even calling on Grand Chief David Harper to step down.
Harper, who is head of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), recently signed a $312,689 agreement with the NWMO. Harper told CBC the money is going toward educating his citizens about the risks involved with nuclear waste, and was not accepted in an agreement to store it.
“As a matter of fact there is legislation that was put in place in 1987 that there will be no nuclear waste in Manitoba,” Harper said.
But a group of chiefs from the Swampy Cree Tribal Council (SCTC) — which is politically aligned with MKO — said just signing the agreement contravenes a 2014 moratorium against the storing of nuclear waste in Manitoba.
In a March 11, 2015 press release, the Swampy Cree chiefs said they’ve “lost all faith in MKO Grand Chief David Harper. His signing of this deal with NWMO without our knowledge or consent is a major breach of trust.”
Those chiefs say they’re pulling out of MKO until the grand chief has been removed from office — something Harper refuses to do.
“I’m doing my job to protect First Nations,” said Harper.
Since 2000, the NWMO has been trying to find sites to store radioactive waste produced by nuclear electricity plants in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. They want to store the nuclear waste deep under the ground, in the rock of the Canadian Shield.
The NWMO recently ruled out Creighton, Sask. as a potential host site.