Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya commends Teck Resources for the decision to withdraw its application for the Frontier Oilsands Mine.
“The project was becoming a lightning rod for all the concerns about the health of the Mackenzie River Basin,” Chief Yakeleya said. “The decades of the cumulative environmental impact of the oil sands, especially the water, which flows north into the NWT.”
Teck Resources made a decision Sunday night to abandon its Frontier oilsands mine proposal and it appears to have shocked both supporters and critics of the project.
A demonstration was planned for today at the Legislative Assembly in Yellowknife against the mine led by Smith’s Landing First Nation with support of National Chief Yakeleya. The public protest has since been canceled.
“However, despite the cancellation – water management and protection are ongoing concerns for Indigenous people,” Chief Yakeleya said. “Many other oilsands expansion projects are being considered.”
Teck Resources announced its decision amid weeks of blockades that were being held in solidarity with B.C.’s Wet’suwer’et First Nation to get RCMP to leave their land. Teck’s decision came days before the federal cabinet was expected to make a decision on the project.
Chief Yakeleya says there are other pressures affecting aboriginal people like the announced potential release of 1.3 trillion litres of oil sands tailings pond water into the Athabasca River, as well as the massive Site C Dam expansion on the Peace River – with major downstream impacts which would affect the traditional ways of life of Dene people.
The Alberta/NWT Transboundary Water Agreement, signed by Alberta and NWT in 2015, has received a lot of attention as a result, Chief Yakeleya says.
“This agreement is our shield at the Alberta/NWT border, to help protect the water,” Chief Yakeleya said. “Northern governments have to work together to keep that shield strong and improve it. That is why the Dene Nation is hosting the First Northern Leaders Water Summit in October 2020. This is no time to get complacent.”