Deh Cho First Nations Offer Bounty For Bernier Stakes
The Deh Cho First nations are offering $100 to anybody who brings in a stake from the so-called Bernier claims. The mineral claims were staked in the name of the wife of a senior federal official involved in setting up a review for the proposed Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline. This was despite a federal law that prohibits federal public servants from having a direct or indirect interest in lands in the Northwest Territories.
“These claim stakes are a symbol of all that is wrong with the way we have been treated by the federal government,” says Deh Cho Grand Chief Herb Norwegian. “They were put on our land without any consultation at all with our people. We were left out of the decision, the same way we’re being left out of decisions about this pipeline. If it goes ahead, the pipeline will be the biggest industrial project the north has ever seen, and it will drastically alter our lands and lives of our people. Removing the stakes will show the government that we will not be left out of decisions about our land.”
The government has appointed a Montreal lawyer to investigate the circumstances surrounding the suspect mineral claims. While that is a good start, there has been continued silence on requests to have the claims formally cancelled, and to include the Deh Cho in a review process for the proposed pipeline. Forty percent of the pipeline route crosses DCFN traditional lands. “We continue to ask the federal government to do the right thing,” says Liidli Kue chief Keyna Norwegian. “If they refuse to listen, then we must take action. We are continuing to prepare our legal case to get the pipeline review process stopped until it includes a meaningful place for the Deh Cho. We will not stop until we have achieved these goals.” The bounty on the stakes is effective until 5:00 p.m. Friday, November 21. Only stakes from the “Bernier” claims will be accepted. The DCFN will provide maps and exact GPS co-ordinates for the claim posts to anyone who requests. Stakes may be handed in at the Deh Cho First Nations office in Fort Simpson.
For more information, contact: Herb Norwegian, Grand Chief Deh Cho First Nations phone: (867) 695-2355. Keyna Norwegian, Chief, Liidli Kue First Nation (Fort Simpson) phone: (867) 695-3131.
DCFN Online: http://www.dehchofirstnations.com