9 July 2021

YELLOWKNIFE – The Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN) is calling on the Government of Canada to move forward on signing several agreements that would represent a first step in addressing the toxic legacy of the Giant Mine. Although significant progress has been made on developing these agreements, the summer Parliamentary recess and an impending election threaten to undermine that work and delay the already overdue resolution of this matter.

“We have made more progress in the last six months on mending these historic wrongs than has been made in the last 70 years,” said Chief Edward Sangris. “However, we are growing concerned at the recent slowdown in momentum this summer, and worry that an election could significantly delay, if not undo much of the important progress made over the past six months.”

Representatives of the Government of Canada and YKDFN are currently in the process of finalizing agreements on:

  1. A Collaborative Process Protocol Agreement setting out a process to begin negotiations for an apology and compensation for the harms caused by Giant Mine.
  2. A Memorandum of Cooperation to advance key socio-economic priorities.
  3. A Community Benefits Agreement to ensure that YKDFN obtains socio-economicbenefits from the Giant Mine Remediation Project.
  4. A Framework to maximize the number of work packages under the Giant MineRemediation Project that are awarded to Indigenous businesses and formalize YKDFN’s role in the Project as the Indigenous group most impacted by Giant Mine.

These proposed agreements are currently sitting on the desks of Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller, and Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand and are awaiting their approval.

The Liberal MP for the Northwest Territories, Michael McLeod, sponsored a petition from YKDFN calling for an apology and compensation that was presented in March 2021. With 32,192 signatures from Canadians across the country, it is one of the most widely supported petitions of this Parliament.

“The Government of Canada needs to keep its eye on the ball,” said Chief Edward Sangris. “We told our history to the Ministers earlier this year, and we made our request. They responded with good words and vowed that ‘this should be done, and this will be done,’ and a target of the first half of this year had been set for signatures. It is now July, and it seems that an election will be called any day. If Government does not take the opportunity to close on these important agreements before an election is called, it will undermine the goodwill built to date.”



For media inquiries:
Jason Snaggs, CEO, Yellowknives Dene First Nation Tel: 867-873-4307 ext. 2002
E-mail: [email protected]

Recent Timeline of Events:

  • ●  17 November 2020 – YKDFN presents an official letter to Hon. Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, calling for an apology and compensation from the Government of Canada for the historic harms caused by Giant Mine.
  • 2 December 2020 – YKDFN holds a demonstration at Giant Mine calling for apology and compensation.
  • 7 December 2020 – YKDFN launches an online petition to the Government of Canada through the House of Commons calling for an apology and compensation, sponsored by Northwest Territories MP Michael McLeod.
  • 19 January 2021 – YKDFN meets with Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs.
  • 22 January 2021 – YKDFN meets with MPs from the National Liberal Indigenous Caucus.
  • 29 January 2021 – YKDFN holds first meeting with Ministers Carolyn Bennett and Dan Vandal and presents the history of the toxic legacy of the Giant Mine on the Yellowknives Dene people and introduces key requests.
  • 26 February 2021 – YKDFN holds second meeting with Ministers Carolyn Bennett and Dan Vandal, and the Ministers direct their officials to operationalize the next steps.
  • 7 March 2021 – Online petition closes with 32,192 signatures from Canadians across the country, making it one of the most widely-supported petitions of this Parliament.
  • 22 March 2021 – Northwest Territories MP Michael McLeod presents the petition in the House of Commons.
  • 5 May 2021 – Government of Canada presents official response to petition.
  • March to June 2021 – YKDFN holds multiple working-level meetings with CIRNAC and PSPC officials to prepare agreements for signature.

Listen to Chief Ernest Betsina’s interview on CBC’s As It Happens.

Help us reach 500 signatures! Sign the House of Commons Petition.