Northern Chief Says Roadblocks Not All Bad

Friday, May 18, 2007 at 15:28



The chief of the Clearwater River Dene Nation says he doesn’t think it’s unreasonable for bands to use roadblocks to address government inaction over land claims if all other options have been exhausted first.


Roy Cheechum says the tactic helped his own band solve an outstanding issue three years ago.


In September 2004, his band blocked Highway 955 to protest a lack of consultation over how its land was being used — and also to call attention to the lack of jobs being offered to band members for the decommissioning of the nearby Cluff Lake uranium mine.


He concedes his band’s own blockade brought about the desired effect, and no one got hurt.


Cheechum says roadblocks aren’t something that should be initiated if other options are present.


However, he says bands are doing their best to “get out from under the federal government’s thumb”, and leaders will do what they must to help their people.


Indian Affairs minister Jim Prentice has publicly stated he doesn’t want to see blockades on June 29th — the day that’s been marked as a day of action for First Nations.


He also warns bands could face financial penalties if he finds out any government dollars were used in confrontations. But Cheechum doesn’t believe that will stop First Nations from getting their message out.


Cheechum says his own band doesn’t have anything planned, but he agrees with many others that government progress on First Nations files is too slow.