One man from the Black Lake area is raising concerns about resource exploration activities taking place on his family’s trap lines.
Donald Sayazie serves as the chairperson of the N-80 fur block in northern Saskatchewan and traps through the winter months. As a boy Sayazie learned to hunt, trap and fish from his late father, whose cabins are still close to his present day camp.
Lately, he’s noticed different exploratory activities taking place on his and his family’s trapping lines. His brothers have also noticed activities on their lands, which are close to Sayazie’s. He said he feels as though he wasn’t properly consulted before the company started work.
“Consultation with us, that’s very important nowadays, it’s not like a long time ago,” Sayazie said. “This needs to be addressed, in Ottawa, or [by] somebody who knows that policy.”
Sayazie said he received a letter through registered mail dated October 2017 from Cameco in January which outlined the company’s plans to conduct exploration activities on his trap line in the middle of January.
He said he and the trappers he represents would rather be consulted in person before any kind of mining, or pre-mining activities take place on his lands. In total he said roughly five trappers are directly impacted by the resource exploration.
The lands in question along have long provided Sayazie and his family food and a source of income.
He said the exploratory activities have taken their toll on the wildlife in the area, which is in turn affecting his ability to trap. As activities ramped up over the last few years he noticed a decline in the amount of animals he’s bringing back from the lines.
“Where they’re doing the exploration right now, the animals won’t go there, there’s too [much] noise,” Sayazie said, adding moose, woodland and barren-ground caribou have been seen in the area aside from the small game he traps. “That’s where we fish too, they’re impacting us, big time.”
Looking to the future if a mine does open in the area, Sayazie said he doesn’t know where he and his family would go to continue their trapping activities.
Cameco responds to concerns
Carey Hyndman, a Cameco spokesperson, said the company sends the chairperson of each fur block a letter through registered mail.
“[We send registered letters] so that it’s signed and picked up, we know that’s gone through, but it looks like in this instance that process wasn’t effective,” Hyndman said. “We’re looking at our process again to try to improve it because it’s always our intent that everybody knows what’s happening.”
She said the company has met with Sayeze to hear his concerns, and those discussions are ongoing. Sayeze confirmed he had engaged in discussions with company officials earlier this month.
Hyndman said the Ministry of Environment informs local leaders who could be impacted by exploratory operations. Cameco also hosts regular community meetings to inform people of planned operations and exploration activities. A meeting was hosted in the fall of 2017 regarding the activities currently taking place in the region.
She said the ongoing exploration activities taking place in and around Sayeze’s trap line is related to the Dawn Lake project, northwest of Wollaston Lake. Planned activities in the area for 2018 and 2019 include drilling, line cutting, trail construction and geophysical surveys.
On Twitter: @BryanEneas
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