Dene Suline community members from the Cold Lake First Nation (CLFN) have occupied an area of their traditional territory which the Alberta government has allocated for an expansion of the English Bay Provincial Recreation Area, without the Nation’s consent.
The protesters say they are “protecting burial sites and many other cultural significant areas” at the site, which is located about 40 kilometres north of the city of Cold Lake in the province of Alberta.
In 2006, the government began working to expand and redevelop the area into a feature-rich campground, complete with power hookups, a boat launch, a registration booth, a playground and new washrooms, reports Postmedia News.
However, the redevelopment project was brought to a grinding halt that same year, after several historical artifacts were found, some of which dated back more than 4,000 years.
Earlier this year, Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation (TPR) somehow gained approval to continue the redevelopment project.
Responding to the government’s preparations to resume their work, about thirty Dene Suline set up a camp on May 6, 2011.
After it had been established, the Alberta government ordered everyone to vacate the area by 5 p.m.. However, the Dene refused.
“We’re not going to relinquish our access or our rights to this land,” said Chief Cecil Janvier, about an hour after the province’s deadline had passed. “We’re going to voice our opposition to their proposed development … and if I have to park my truck in the middle of the road or whatever, I will do it.”
Chief Janvier also said the CLFN has filed a lawsuit against the Alberta government.
The major concern now is that the protesters could face an injunction as soon as today–and that may very well lead to a heavy-handed eviction by the RCMP.
In a statement issued on the evening of May 8, 2011, the protesters, which are being supported by CLFN chief and Council, asked “our people across [the] country to support our position.”
They are also asking the Dene Nation “for verbal support on our position,” stating, “We are denying contractors and the Alberta government access to our territory.”
For more information, please contact Brian Grandbois: 780-812-6873
Attention all nations save our land
Attention all Nations:
We the Dene Suline of Cold Lake Alberta are presently occupying a proposed provincial park on our traditional territory.
We are asking the nations for verbal support on our position. We are denying contractors and the alberta government access to our territory.
We are protecting burial sites and many other cultural significant areas.
We may be forced by the RCMP to leave or worse.
We need our people across country to support our position.
We are being supported by CLFN chief and council
In the spirit of total resistance CLFN.