CF-18 fighter jet flyby on Canada Day a reminder of land taken from the Dene Su’lene’ peoples

Published by Brent Patterson on

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A CF-18 takes off from Dene lands at CFB Cold Lake.

A CF-18 fighter jet is scheduled to flyby Ottawa on July 1, Canada Day. It will be piloted by Captain Daniel Deluce, an instructor at 410 Tactical Fighter (Operational Training) Squadron. That squadron is based in Cold Lake, Alberta.

Dene Su’lene’ land defenders have stated: “In 1952, we were forcibly evicted from our homelands [so that the base could be constructed]. In Suckerville [on the shores of Primrose Lake], our people had a 7-day sit-in, refusing to leave. Reluctantly, after heavy coercion from the government, a deal was made.”

They add: “Our people left peacefully under the understanding that this was to be a short-term lease purely for military use, and that the 4,490 square miles of land was to be returned or re-negotiated after 20 years.”

On June 3, 2001, Dene Su’lene’ Warriors established a Peace Camp blockade 300 metres from the gate to the military base that also includes the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR) where live fire training exercises are conducted.

Also known as the Primrose Lake Air Weapons Range, it includes “an instrumented aerospace testing and evaluation range, a manned air-to-ground range (including a high explosive range), and an air-to-air gunnery range.”

Land defender Brian Grandbois was one of the opponents of the military base at that time. In an interview, he told The Dominion: “My great-great-great-grandfather is buried there on a point on that lake where they bomb.”

By October 2001, the Band Council of the Cold Lake First Nation signed a $25.5 million that would allow the military base and weapons range to continue. This amounted to $35 for each acre of the weapons range and $2,500 for each band member.

In November 2012, Sandra Cuffe wrote: “Aside from a land claim settlement concerning the military base, the Cold Lake First Nation band council has also signed agreements with hydrocarbon corporations and owns a number of contracting companies serving the military and oil and gas industries.”

Grandbois commented: “They’re extracting huge amounts of resources, both in gas and oil. …If you look in the Air Weapons Range today in 2012, you’ll find the Denesuline are cleaning toilets for executives.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stated: “I think this Canada Day, it will be a time of reflection on what we’ve achieved as a country, but what more we have to do.”

The CF-18 flyby is a reminder about the land taken from the Dene Su’lene’ and the efforts of land defenders to reclaim that land from a military base.

Land defender Brian Grandbois.

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