Follow the leader
Northern aboriginal groups seek help from Unama'ki on environmental remediation
Cape Breton Post
Wed., July 15, 2009
SYDNEY - Community and business leaders from the Northwest
Territories are touring the tar ponds this week and learning from
local aboriginal groups how to build capacity in their own
communities and take advantage of future cleanup projects in the
Tuesday and today, representatives from the Tlicho and Deline
First Nations are being accompanied by officials from Indian and
Northern Affairs in meetings with others from the Unama'ki Economic
Benefits Office based in Membertou First Nation.
Deline Land Corp.
spokesperson Marty Ann Kenny said five uranium mine sites around
Great Bear Lake are scheduled for environmental remediation and
northern aboriginals are hoping to learn from local groups in Cape
Breton how to set up private companies and bid on government cleanup
The land corp. is a band-owned entity, but other private
companies will be expected to bid on cleanup projects. "That's part
of why we came here, to find out how they set up the companies,"
Kenny said. The northern cleanup sites include the Port Radium mine,
which supplied uranium used in manufacturing of the nuclear bomb
dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, during the Second World War, she added.
The Deline First Nation, with a population of about 600, is located
on the shores of Great Bear Lake. It is a fly-in community with
Unama'ki executive director Owen Fitzgerald said
the five First Nations communities in Cape Breton have already
secured work contracts worth more than $19 million as part of the
$400-million cleanup of the Sydney tar ponds and coke ovens sites.
First Nations communities across Canada have been hearing about the
success of the unique economic partnership between the Unama'ki
communities and the federal and provincial governments, he said, and
are interested in learning how aboriginal set-asides are identified
In addition to a tour of the tar ponds, the northern
visitors are touring a Devco mine site remediation in Sydney Mines
and meeting with local First Nations government and business leaders
to discuss how aboriginal communities are organizing to effectively
participate in the larger cleanup project and how aboriginal groups
are using the project as a stepping stone to business development
and future economic development.