Hundreds of seacans containing highly contaminated material at Giant Mine. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio
The Yellowknives Dene First Nation and federal government have signed an agreement that deals with the way contracts are awarded for Giant Mine’s remediation.
The agreement was signed on June 22 by Dettah Chief Edward Sangris and Ndılǫ Chief Fred Sangris, as well as federal northern affairs minister Dan Vandal and federal public services and procurement minister Helena Jaczek.
In a press release, the federal government said the agreement confirms Canada’s commitment to ensuring the Yellowknives Dene First Nation and other local Indigenous peoples have increased procurement opportunities throughout remediation work at the abandoned former gold mine.
Giant, which sits on the First Nation’s traditional territories, is one of the most contaminated sites in the country. Remediating the mine is expected to cost $4.38 billion, making it the most expensive federal cleanup in Canadian history.
Remediation work began in 2021 and is expected to continue until 2038. Throughout the project’s lifetime, the remediation team is anticipated to spend roughly $240 million annually.
To maximize benefits to northerners and Indigenous peoples, the Giant Mine Remediation Project released a strategy in 2019 that included provisions for employment, training and procurement. The Yellowknives Dene First Nation and Ottawa also signed three agreements related to the site, including a deal that committed up to $20 million over a decade to ensuring the First Nation benefits from the project.
The new agreement is said to prioritize contracts with Indigenous-owned businesses in the community, while aiming to increase the First Nation’s oversight over how contracts are awarded, and administering tougher penalties for companies that do not meet commitments regarding Indigenous opportunities.
“We are continuing to hold Canada to account for its promises to support the participation of Indigenous businesses as part of the project,” Dettah Chief Edward Sangris was quoted as saying. (Cabin Radio reached out to the First Nation for more details about the agreement, but did not hear back before publication.)
Ndılǫ Chief Fred Sangris said participation in the remediation work offers young people opportunities to build skills they can take with them in their careers.