THE DENE PEOPLE OF GREAT BEAR LAKE CALL FOR A FEDERAL RESPONSE TO URANIUM DEATHS

DELINE, N.W.T., March 25, 1998 We, the Sahtugot'ine (the Dene of Great Bear Lake) have been subjected to and continue to suffer from a grave injustice imposed on us by the Canadian government. Without being told of the deadly hazards of radiation, our men carried radioactive ore and our families and children have been exposed to radiation for over 60 years. We are concerned, in particular, about: The deaths of our community members from cancer and other radiation and mining related diseases and the psychological and social impact these deaths of have had on us; and The presence of millions of tons of radioactive waste in our Great Bear Lake environment, which we regard as our source of food and spiritual nourishment.

On Sunday, March 22, 1998, we held a community meeting in which we released to the community evidence of Canadian government prior knowledge and ongoing complicity in the environmental crime we have suffered. Speaking for the Dene First Nation of Deline, and its Band Uranium Committee, Chief Raymond Tutcho said:

"We the Dene have been subjected to over 60 years of horrible injustice because of apparent national interests. Our people have paid for this with our lives and the health of our community, lands and waters. We have set out a 'Plan for Essential Response and Necessary Redress'. It is a constructive and minimum response to the ongoing impacts of uranium mining on the Dene people and lands".
At our Community meeting last weekend we decided to present this plan to the Canadian government, and the Ministers of Indian Affairs, Health and Mines. These Ministers have stated they are "concerned", and that this is a "horrible situation". We are hopeful that they will agree that our plan is a reasonable response to the injustices we have suffered. Our plan includes:

Immediate Crisis Assistance Comprehensive Environmental and Social Assessment Full Public Disclosure Clean-ups and Monitoring Acknowledgment of Government Responsibility Community Healing and Cultural Regeneration

For further information: Cindy Kenny Gilday, 867-873-4695 or Andrew Orkin, (905) 529-3476


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