Yellowknives Dene one step closer to Giant Mine apology

Members of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation at the Giant Mine site. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio

The Yellowknives Dene First Nation says they’re making progress on an apology for the long-lasting impacts of Giant Mine as they prepare a massive petition to the Canadian government.

In a news release on Friday, the First Nation said at a meeting with federal ministers last week, the Canadian government had agreed to move forward on an apology, compensation, and arrangements for the Yellowknives Dene to have a role in remediation efforts. 

Ndilǫ Chief Ernest Betsina said they are aiming to have an agreement on set-aside contracts for the remediation project, along with a memorandum of collaboration on socio-economic benefits, by the end of this month

“We are optimistic right now on the progress that is being made, but there is still much work to do,” he said. 



Meanwhile, the First Nation has launched a petition to the federal government outlining their calls for an apology and compensation. According to the First Nation it has over 30,000 signatures and is currently the biggest open petition to the Canadian government. 

Yellowknives Dene First Nation members hold signs around a fire at the Giant Mine site. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio

The petition closes on March 7, after which it will be presented to the House of Commons by Michael McLeod.

“I am pleased that the Government of Canada and the Yellowknives Dene First Nation are continuing to make progress on our important work,” McLeod said in a statement. “I also commend the efforts of those who have supported the petition, and I look forward to tabling it in the near future.” 

In December, staff and members of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation gathered at the site of Giant Mine to call on the government to apologize for the long-lasting cultural, social, and environmental impacts from Giant Mine. They said they also want an active role in remediation of the site that includes jobs and training. 

Last month, the federal government agreed to a negotiating table with the First Nation to discuss the issue.