Alberta groups support Dene Suline in their battle for traditional territory

Greenpeace and Sierra Club Prairie have offered their support to the Dene Suline who have erected a Peace Camp just north of Cold Lake, Alberta.

The camp was set up within the cultural rights and practices of the Cold Lake First Nations to stop the construction of a RV park that the Province wants to build on top of an area that holds great cultural and spiritual significance for the Dene Suline.

“We support the Dene Suline and their right to free, prior and informed consent before development occurs on their traditional territory,” said Mike Hudema, climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada. “This area holds great cultural and spiritual significance for the Dene Suline, encompassing grave sites, medicinal plants and bountiful berry bushes, and should not be destroyed for an RV park before the Free Prior and Informed Consent of the Dene Suline leadership and community has been obtained. The Alberta government needs to do a much better job at engaging with the Dene Suline people to ensure their federally-enshrined treaty rights are respected.”

The Dene Suline were granted a court injunction two weeks ago, however the terms of the court order mandated numerous actions that would undermine their cultural practices, including the demand to extinguish their sacred fire. As the Dene Suline refused the tenants of the court order, they have been given a 48-hour court order to dismantle their teepees, tents and vacate the peace camp at Berry Point at English Bay in Cold Lake.

“The Dene Suline of Cold Lake are already landlocked and do not have much land and water with which to maintain their inherent and internationally-recognized Indigenous identity and cultural practices,” said Dustin Johnson, tar-sands campaigner with Sierra Club Prairie. “Within a region already littered with massive forestry, oil & gas and military testing developments, there can only be benefits to protecting one of the last intact ecological spaces. The Dene Suline are the original stewards of these lands, many of whom still hold Indigenous knowledge about the area. It is time Canadian governments respected their rights and demands to protect this area from further harmful development and to return Berry Point at Cold back to the Dene Suline people of Cold Lake to maintain their ancestral rights.”

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