June 3, 2013
“Signing of Cameco/Areva deal with English River First Nation ignites strong opposition from members”
Cameco and Areva officials signed a May 31st collaborationn agreement with the administration of English River First Nation, amid loud vocal opposition from members demanding to be consulted on the deal.
The agreement – which members have not been permitted to see – allegedly promises $600 million in business contracts and employee wages to the Dene band, in exchange for supporting Cameco/Areva’s existing and proposed projects within ERFN’s traditional territory, and with the condition that ERFN discontinue their lawsuit against the Saskatchewan government relating to Treaty Land Entitlement section of lands near Cameco’s proposed Millenium mine project.
In a May 29th letter to Cameco CEO Tim Gitzel, English River First Nation member Cheryl Maurice stated:
“Many members have not been informed as to what this agreement means for this community. A majority either do not understand it, or are not informed.”
Maurice went on to inform Gitzel that signing of this deal could result in members looking at different legal avenues.
According to some on the reserve, band members who expressed concern or opposition to the deal have been silenced and even publicly attacked.
“When one of the band councillors attempted to bring forward a list of concerns that this deal was not good for the people, now or in future generations”, says Candyce Paul, ERFN member, “he was literally swarmed by Cameco representatives, the vice chief and councilors in favor of the signing. Those opposing the deal wishing to access local radio were denied access, although those in favour could use the radio anytime they want”, she stated.
The signing took place during a wake being held on the reserve for an English River band member who had died a few days earlier.
“Traditional First Nations protocol respects the grieving, and normally, things like this would be delayed until well after funeral,” added Paul.
“I saw Grandmothers crying after the signing. Mothers went home and wept.”
English River First Nation
* video coverage of opposition at signing available by contacting: