RE: Dehcho leaders give notice Edehzhie is off limits to exploration

The leaders from Dehcho communities are taking a strong stand against exploration and development in their traditional harvesting area of Edehzhie. Leaders say there are over two dozen harvesters using the area. Leaders want harvesters to monitor activity and pull out any prospecting stakes they find and turn it into Dehcho First Nations. They are considering paying a bounty for each stake brought in.

The failure of Canada to protect the sub surface rights on the Horn Plateau known in Dene as Edehzhie, has infuriated the leaders. The plateau is slated to become a National Wildlife Protected Area. Dehcho First Nations has been working since 2002 with Canada and the World Wildlife Fund towards an Agreement to protect the area.

Grand Chief Samuel Gargan, speaking on behalf of all the Chiefs says, “We cannot stand by and allow sacred ancestral lands and the watershed be destroyed. Stakes will be removed and we will protect our land in court.”

Harvesters from Ft Providence, Jean Marie River, Ft Simpson and Wrigley, as well as some Tlicho harvesters rely on the Edehzhie for their livelihood. Jonas Antoine, is one of many harvesters and was the Chair of the Edehzhie Protect Area Strategy Committee. He says, ”The Horn Plateau is a sensitive ecosystem. We have been working with Canada to protect it for years. Now Canada has just made a mockery of their whole Protected Area Strategy process. Any development could destroy this unique area. We must do everything we can to protect it for our ancestors and for our grandchildren.”

Legal Counsel for Dehcho First Nations have been directed to prepare to challenge Canada’s decision in court without prejudice to the Dehcho Process.

Further Info contact:

Grand Chief Samuel Gargan