A group of trappers have set up a blockade on Highway 955, near La Loche, slowing down industrial traffic heading to local mineral and oil exploration sites.
They are representatives of Metis Local 130 in Descharme Lake and the N-19 fur block.
The blockade is located about eight kilometres north of La Loche.
The trappers accuse the companies of restricting them from traditional land use activities and damaging the local environment.
Northern Trappers’ Alliance spokesperson Candyce Paul says the trappers and other locals want to see forms of development in the area that don’t cause serious disruption to the local environment.
“They want to be involved in choosing a direction to develop and a direction that isn’t going to destroy their lands and their waters and their lifestyles,” she says.
Calgary-based Cenovus Energy is one of the companies that have economic interests in the area.
Company spokesperson Reg Curran says Cenovus is not currently conducing any exploration activities in the area and they are reclaiming and improving the local environment rather than damaging it.
“We’ve done a lot of tree planting, a lot of seed collection, in fact, we’ve collected millions of seeds for future re-vegetation and in the past year or so planted nearly 100,000 trees,” he says.
Curran says some of the sites the company is working in do have to be restricted due to equipment security and for safety reasons.
He says about 15 local people are employed by Cenovus in the area.
Saskatchewan Deputy Minister of Justice Kevin Fenwick says as far as the government is aware, the blockade has been peaceful so far and the trappers are only delaying industrial traffic but not preventing vehicles from entering work sites.
He says the government would only seek a court injunction to take down the blockade as a last resort and they have put out a request to meet with the trappers to better understand their demands.
“What we’re doing, actually, is trying to reach out to those who are involved in the demonstration to find out exactly what their specific areas of concern are but to our knowledge, and certainly to my knowledge, the individuals involved have not taken up that offer to meet,” he says.
Other companies that have interests in the area include Purepoint Uranium Group and NexGen Energy.
There are about eight trappers on the blockade.
Monday was the third day of the blockade.