Chief Defends Use of Blockade

Wednesday, September 08, 2004 at 13:19



A northern Dene leader is hoping that future industry agreements with his band come at a smoother pace.


Clearwater River chief Roy Cheechum says his band’s recent blockade of the road to the Cluff Lake uranium mine was unfortunate.


He says it was necessary, though, because the community had serious concerns about the allocation of jobs and resources on its traditional land which weren’t being addressed.


However, Cheechum says future economic agreements will have to be looked at much more carefully.


Last week, Cheechum struck a deal with the provincial government and Cogema Resources that enabled the roadblock to come down.


Northern Affairs minister Buckley Belanger says he made it clear to Cheecham that he wouldn’t be able to negotiate specifics while the blockade was still up.


Now that it’s down, Belanger says the band and the province can move ahead on land use issues.


Cheecham has been calling for the development of a long-term land use plan that addresses his band’s concerns, which include the leasing of land to outside groups on Clearwater River traditional territory.


Belanger says the province will see what can be done to increase communication between all stakeholders in the area.