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e-3009 (Indigenous affairs)

E-petition
Initiated by Ernest Betsina from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

Whereas:
  • Canada permitted Giant Mine to operate within the traditional territory of the Yellowknives Dene, in an area it knew was of critical importance to their way of life;
  • Giant Mine’s operations caused ongoing social, environmental, and economic harm and displacement to the Yellowknives Dene;
  • Even after remediation, 237,000 tonnes of arsenic trioxide dust will remain stored at the mine site in perpetuity; and
  • Canada has not made any arrangements with the Yellowknives Dene to ensure they are able to participate in the remediation and conduct long-term monitoring at the former mine site.
We, the undersigned, Yellowknives Dene First Nation, call upon the Government of Canada to:
1. Acknowledge and apologize for Canada’s role in permitting Giant Mine, and the resulting harm to the lands and people of the Yellowknives Dene;
2. Compensate the Yellowknives Dene for the lands and resources taken without their consent, and the harm caused to their lands and people;
3. Ensure the Yellowknives Dene, as the people who suffered most from the toxic legacy of Giant Mine, can fully participate in the clean-up of the lands and long-term care of the lands by :
(a) Creating a set-aside contract arrangement for the Yellowknives Dene to provide services to the Giant Mine Remediation Project, similar to arrangements with the Mi’kmaq related to the clean-up of the Sydney Tar Ponds; and
(b) Supporting the Yellowknives Dene to develop the skills necessary to work on these remediation contracts and to conduct long-term monitoring at the former mine site.

Response by the Minister of Northern Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): YVONNE JONES

The Government of Canada, and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC), recognizes the importance of the Giant Mine site to the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, and the impact that it has had on its community. Righting historical wrongs and working collaboratively to renew the Government’s relationship with First Nations is key to advancing reconciliation in Canada. CIRNAC is committed to moving forward in collaboration with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation.

CIRNAC is working in collaboration with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation to address the request for an apology in relation to Giant Mine. To date, the Department has provided funding to the Yellowknives Dene First Nation in excess of $300,000 in order to conduct historical research in relation to Giant Mine. A memorandum of understanding between the Department and the Yellowknives Dene First Nation is currently in development.

CIRNAC is also committed to seeking a resolution to the Yellowknives Dene First Nation’s request for compensation in relation to Giant Mine, the Department is working in collaboration with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation in order to identify the process and resolution to this request.

To date, the Yellowknives Dene First Nation have been awarded $45.8 million in contracts for the Giant Mine remediation. CIRNAC is working with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation on a draft Community Benefits Agreement which builds on this success and reflects the commitment of the Government to enable the Yellowknives Dene First Nation to continue to benefit from the socio-economic opportunities as a result of this project. Set asides under the Procurement Strategy for Aboriginal Businesses have been used by CIRNAC, in collaboration with Public Services and Procurement Canada, to maximize contracting opportunities for Indigenous businesses. From December 2017 to November 2020, the Giant Mine Remediation Project Main Construction Manager has set aside approximately $15.8 million under the Procurement Strategy for Aboriginal Businesses.

CIRNAC is committed to supporting the Yellowknives Dene First Nation’s ongoing participation in the Giant Mine Remediation Project through training and capacity building initiatives. In fiscal year 2020-2021, CIRNAC provided the Yellowknives Dene First Nation with $867,183 to participate in all aspects of the projects, including training activities through the Dechita Naowo. The Department is also currently in discussions with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation to establish a five year rolling training plan which will start in fiscal year 2021-2022 and continue for the duration of the implementation of the Giant Mine Remediation Project. In addition, CIRNAC continues to offer ongoing funding to support the implementation of a Yellowknives Dene First Nation Community Based Monitoring Program.

 

Open for signature
December 7, 2020, at 4:29 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
March 7, 2021, at 4:29 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Michael McLeod (Northwest Territories)
March 22, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00683)
Government response tabled
May 5, 2021
Photo - Michael McLeod
Northwest Territories
Liberal Caucus
Northwest Territories
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