Birch Narrow Dene Nation land defenders in Saskatchewan set up blockade to stop uranium company on their territory

Published by Brent Patterson on

On February 21, CBC reported: “A northern Saskatchewan First Nation blockaded a road and issued a cease and desist order against a Toronto uranium company. Birch Narrows Dene Nation officials say they took action after Baselode Energy workers started surveying the band’s traditional territory without consent.”

The article adds: “Birch Narrows trapper and elder Ron Desjardin discovered the survey crew earlier this month on one of the community’s trap lines 600 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon. A teepee blockade was set up across the road and Birch Narrows leaders issued a cease and desist order against the company.”

“Desjardin said the endangered woodland caribou are his biggest concern. [The area is home] to endangered woodland caribou, lynx and other wildlife. Birch Narrows wanted a detailed wildlife and habitat impact study conducted before things went any further.”

“Baselode board chair Stephen Stewart said in an inteview the company obtained all necessary provincial permits. He said the initial survey would have next to no environmental impact. Stewart said they started work because it has to be done when the ground is frozen, but he admitted waiting a week until after the second meeting with the First Nation wouldn’t have mattered. Stewart said he and his officials will work closely with Birch Narrows. He’s now promising the project will not proceed unless Birch Narrows agrees.”

Given these assurances, “The blockade is no longer up, but Birch Narrows members are patrolling the area regularly.”

The article further notes: “The province [of Saskatchewan] takes the position that a traditional land use study is not required by law. In the statement, the official said ‘deliberately blocking Crown lands is illegal’ and could be referred to RCMP.”

Earlier this month, Desjardin posted on Facebook: “When I come to the end of my days, I want to be able to look at our young people in the eyes knowing that I did whatever I could to preserve the land for them.”

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