Giant Mine contamination apology discussions underway, says Yellowknives Dene First Nation – by Hannah Paulson (CBC News North – March 4, 2021)

‘The destruction of the ecosystem that we have always enjoyed is a very painful history,’ chief says

A First Nation in the Northwest Territories is expecting to receive an apology from the federal government for the contamination of its land.

That’s according to Ed Sangris, chief of Dettah, N.W.T., who says the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN) are expecting the process for an apology from the federal government, for the harms caused by contamination from the former Giant Mine, to begin in June.

A spokesperson for Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada confirmed that the federal government has never apologized for the harm suffered by Indigenous people following the development and contamination of land caused by mining in the North.

For 70 years, Giant Mine produced over 237,000 tons of arsenic trioxide, and released poisonous dust into the air and water surrounding the mine. It is known by YKDFN as the “Giant Mine Monster” whose toxicity has displaced their people from deeply valued and respected ancestral homelands, infringing on their treaty rights.

“The destruction of the system that we have always enjoyed is a very, very painful history,” Sangris said.

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