APTN National News
Dene elder Francois Paulette, enjoys taking visitors out on rivers and lakes surrounding his home in Fort Fitzgerald in Treaty 8 territory – and that’s why he’s concerned about the Site C dam thousands of kilometres away.
Paulette, from the Smith’s Landing First Nation, and other leaders across Treaty 8 are concerned about the downstream effects the Site C dam will have on the Peace-Athabasca Delta.
“This one right now you would notice that the water is very low. in the normal year it would be higher than that,” said Paulette.
For Paulette water is a way of life and he feels that livelihood is threatened by the by the Site c dam.
He helped organize a three-day Tu Beta Ts’ena, water is life gathering.
Many communities in Treaty 8 are built around the Peace-Athabasca water basin.
According to leaders at the gathering, the Site C dam on British Columbia’s Peace River will have direct impacts on rivers downstream.
“I caught myself saying I’m afraid of the water because I live in Fort Chipewyan,” said Ruby Shirley, a band councillor for the Mikisew Cree First Nation. “And I take a shower in brown water.
“The water is brown.”
Becky Koska is the director of the Slave River Coalition.
She said the coalition will draft up the findings from the gathering and make a call to each community to contribute a participant to work towards a new water collective that is specifically aimed at stopping Site C dam.
“The concerns are obviously are the changes in the water,” said Koska. “Whether it is water rate, flow, quantity, quality, obviously contamination from the oil sands are a big one.
“The Bennett dam and Site C dam are kinda top though, that is sort of ground zero for the Mackenzie basin changing,” he said.
Francois said that water levels have gone down since the creation of the Bennett dam – which is upriver from the Site C dam and was built in the 1960s.
He said no one seems to care about that.
“I think water is marginalized it doesn’t really mean too much,” he said. “We’re not as important to industry and to the government.”
Paulette pulls no punches when informing residents from Treaty 8 on what will and will not work to stop Site C dam.
“I just want to say that your petition, nothing is going to be done about it,” he said. “I urgently ask you to meet earlier than that maybe this winter.”
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