The Yellowknives Dene First Nation has agreed to starting negotiations towards an apology and compensation from the federal government for damages caused by Giant Mine.
On Friday, YKDFN Chief Edward Sangris and Ernest Betsina met virtually with Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal, and Northwest Territories MP Michael McLeod.
According to a statement, Bennett and Vandal agreed a “collaborative discussion process” would be required for an apology and compensation.
“Our elders and our people want to get back to the land. I thank the Ministers for taking this important step forward for our people,” says Chief Edward Sangris, Dettah Chief of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation.
“At this meeting, they have at last agreed to move forward on a negotiating table with us to discuss an apology and compensation, and now we need to ensure that this work gets done very urgently for our people,” he added. “They must now put their good words into action.”
YKDFN issued a call to the federal government back in December and had a meeting in January with the House of Commons Indigenous and Northern Affairs Committee Chair Bob Bratina, and Liberal Indigenous Caucus, chaired by Jaime Battiste.
“The management of a contaminated site goes beyond removing harmful substances; it also involves citizens who have concerns about the health and safety of their families and communities,” Minister of Northern Affairs Daniel Vandal, said in a statement.
“I recognize and thank the Yellowknives Dene First Nation for their tremendous work on this important matter. I look forward to continuing to work together, in partnership, to address the legacy of Giant Mine.”