US Army “Black Hawk” helicopters taking part in Exercise Maple Resolve on Treaty 6 lands in Alberta
Photo: US Army Black Hawk helicopters will be participating in Exercise Maple Resolve over Treaty 6 lands in Alberta this month.
Lakeland Today reports: “From May 10 to May 22, about 3,200 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), along with United States of America and United Kingdom personnel will take part in Exercise MAPLE RESOLVE 22, in Wainwright.”
Wainwright is on Treaty 6 territory in Alberta.
The Department of National Defence adds: “Exercise MAPLE RESOLVE is the Canadian Army’s largest and most complex annual training exercise.”
The Department further notes “a detachment of five UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from the Oregon Army National Guard” will be participating in the exercise.
In the book Propaganda and the Public Mind, Noam Chomsky comments: “We still name our military helicopter gunships after victims of genocide. Nobody bats an eyelash about that: Blackhawk. Apache. And Comanche.”
Militarization of territory
Militarization of territory can take the form of military bases and training exercises on Indigenous territories that displace the traditional peoples of that land.
About 200 kilometres north of CFB Wainwright is CFB Cold Lake.
Denesuline land defenders have stated: “In 1952, we were forcibly evicted from our homelands [so that Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake 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.”
In 1994, two members of the Buffalo River Dene Nation were charged for hunting and trespassing on their lands within the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, which is located just north of CFB Cold Lake.
On June 3, 2001, Denesuline land defenders established a peace camp at the gate to the weapons range.
Their statement noted: “We have begun an occupation of our traditional territories, called the Primrose Lake Air Weapons Range, in Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada, in self defence.”
And in April 2013, members of the Buffalo River Dene Nation-Keepers of the Land asserted their rights to this territory by beginning preparations to build cabins and engaging in traditional land use activities on the weapons range.
Around that time, Denesuline land defender Brian Grandbois told The Dominion: “My great-great-great-grandfather is buried there on a point on that lake where they bomb.”
The Cold Lake First Nations now affirms: “Since the creation of the Air Weapons Range in 1952, much of our Traditional Territory had been lost and re-configured.”
Exercise Maple Flag
In 1977, CFB Cold Lake began its annual Exercise Maple Flag over these lands and waters.
CBC has noted: “Exercise Maple Flag creates combat-like situations to further the training of the Royal Canadian Air Force and coalition nations.”
In May 2017, the exercise involved the air forces of the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Belgium.
Exercise Maple Resolve
It is likely that CFB Cold Lake is participating in Exercise Maple Resolve. The Department of National Defence has noted: “The Royal Canadian Air Force will provide an Air Task Force to support Canadian Army training operations during the exercise.”
Photo: Leopard 2 tanks and other vehicles have been moved by rail through New Brunswick to CFB Wainwright for the Exercise Maple Resolve.
Photo: U.S. Army North equipment has also been transported for Exercise Maple Resolve.
Budget 2022 and UNDRIP
The Department has also highlighted: “The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence; and Chief of the Defence Staff, General Wayne Eyre, will visit 3rd Canadian Division Support Base Detachment Wainwright, to meet with CAF and Allied armed forces members who are participating in Ex MR 22.”
Last month, the Canadian government’s Budget 2022 allocated $9.5 million to the Department of National Defence to “align its operations and engagement” with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.
It’s not clear what that means at this point given the Canadian government awarded a $9.2 million contract in August 2020 to EllisDon Construction Services Inc. to design “a new fighter jet facility” at CFB Cold Lake. This is one of two main operating bases where the Lockheed Martin F-35 warplane will be stationed.
The Red Deal and demilitarization
Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, a member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and the executive director of Indigenous Climate Action, has written: “The [Green New Deal] proposals are focused on changing the energy infrastructure while redistributing wealth but ultimately failing to center the destructive intertwined roles of capitalism, consumerism, militarism and colonialism as foundations to the current crisis.”
In contrast, the Red Deal critiques militarism.
The September 2019 draft of the Red Deal notes: “Imagine if the US military had to hold a bake sale to keep its doors open instead of preschools, domestic violence shelters, art and language programs, and family planning clinics?”
Nick Estes (Kul Wicasa), a key participant in the Red Deal process, also writes: “We can start by defunding the US military and reallocating its resources to the parts of the world and the people the United States has destroyed, destabilized, or dispossessed.”
Webinar, May 31
On Tuesday May 31, PBI-Canada will hold a webinar about the CANSEC arms show (that takes place in Ottawa, Algonquin territory, June 1-2) and the militarization of territory in Colombia, Mexico and on Dene lands in northern Alberta.
One of the featured speakers will be Denesuline land defender, traditionalist and biologist Tunkwa Dene Uldai from Tluo Chok Tue (Cold Lake First Nations).
To register for this webinar, click here.
Photo: Exercise Maple Flag over Denesuline lands, 2017.