SRFN Chief wants action on infrastructure project, not more discussions

Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya. (File photo/CKLB).

The Salt River First Nation is awaiting action on infrastructure project that has been on the discussion table for over 10 years.

The project aims to integrate the SRFN to Fort Smith’s water, sewer and street systems, but requires federal funding.

The $16.8 million project was first discussed in 2010, says SRFN Chief David Poitras, and he feels as though no progress has been made since.

“We signed our treaty in 1899 and 121 years later we still don’t have any infrastructure,” Poitras says.

Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya says the project is “shovel ready” and the funding will help an area that has struggled economically.

“Get the money into the peoples hands in the community where there is an economic depression,” he says.

Yakeleya adds the project would create around 70 jobs.

Additionally the plan would include building a residential subdivision of 39 homes over the next 10 years on reserve lands. This would be separate from the $16.8 million project.

Poitras says an application was submitted to the First Nations Financial Authority approximately a month ago.

He says there have been more discussions since, but still no action.

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Luke Carroll
Luke Carroll is a journalist originally from Brockville, Ont. He has previously worked as a reporter and editor in Ottawa, Halifax and New Brunswick. Luke is a graduate of Carleton University's bachelor of journalism program. If you have a story idea, feel free to send him an email at