Keepers of the Water come together for annual gathering 8 Tuesday September 1 2015 ENVIRONMENT WATERSHEDS Northwest Territories UNEXPECTED. UNFORGETTABLE. OPERATION NANOOK THANK YOU WWW.FORTSMITH.CA For more information please contact TOWN OF FORT SMITH P.O. Box 147 Fort Smith NT X0E 0P0 Canada Phone 867 872-8400 Fax 867 872-8401 townoffortsmithfortsmith.ca The Officers and Personnel of the Canadian Armed Forces Immediate Response Unit the Joint Task Force North and the Canadian Rangers Patrol Group. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Emergency Measures Office. The Government of the Northwest Territories Departments of Health and Social Services EnvironmentandNaturalResourcesJustice Airports and of course our partners at Municipal and Community Affairs. The Fort Smith Seniors Society Smiths Landing First Nation and Northwestern Air Lease. The Fort Smith Volunteer Ambulance and Fire Departments and our hard working Community and Municipal Services staff. And finally the citizens and businesses of the Town of Fort Smith must be thanked for their patience and willingness to welcome and assist. Our towns hospitality is second to none. THANK YOU ALL OPERATION NANOOK WAS A GREAT SUCCESS THE TOWN OF FORT SMITH WOULD LIKE TO THANK ALL THE GROUPS WHO WERE INVOLVED IN THIS SUCCESSFUL EXERCISE WHATS NEW IN FORT SMITH By DALI CARMICHAEL KeepersoftheWaterstartedoffitsninthan- nual gathering with some disappointing news. On its second day the morning of Aug. 28 the Supreme Court of British Columbia dismissed an application for an injunction submitted by the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations which would have halted construction work on the 8-billion Site C dam project set for the Peace Valley. At the same time the Federal Court dis- missed a request for a judicial review by the Peace Valley Landowners Association to quash the projects provincial environmen- tal certicate. Thats an issue that the Keepers will en- gage with said Caleb Behn executive direc- tor of Keepers of the Water. The intention is to not be an organization that is strictly reactive. Were a solutions-based organiza- tion and at our gatherings we have had a lot of outputs over the last decade declarations and those kinds of things. Its important to really share the positives and remind people that there are victories there is good work to be done. We assist in really building that nexus of people who care about water and the people who are doing good work and devel- oping new technology new environmental management information systems. This years gathering was held in Bushe Alta. and was hosted by Beaver First Nation andDeneThaFirstNationfromAug.27 to30. Were talking about oil spills and cleanup were talking about fracking were talk- ing about food programming and climate change and touching on renewable energy said Jesse Cardinal coordinator for Keepers of the Athabasca. Shortly before the event a Nuvista En- ergy pipeline broke on the latter hosts tra- ditional territory spilling 100 cubic metres of emulsion over a 13200 square metre area and further driving home the message of the necessity of water protection in the region. A main theme throughout the event was the decolonizing of water systems giving more power over resources to regional in- digenous groups. The Alberta Energy Regulator AER says they do one thing and the communities are saying they dont Cardinal said noting that several AER employees showed up for the event. People are recounting some rst hand experiences with AER so thats been interesting and to have them stick around that is not usual. Theyre willing to engage people but I mean weve respectfully agreed to disagree on a lot of things. Leaders from across the Western provinces and territories attended the gathering as well. I think the most important thing here was to talk about every individuals responsibil- ity Dehcho Grand Chief Herb Norwegian said. We keep talking about the oil compa- nies and the people that are out there that are polluting the waters. At the same time we have a responsibility to make sure that the political people are on track and making sure that theyre doing everything that they can to protect waters throughout the water basin and its our responsibility to make sure that when election time comes we get people in that are going to stand rm. Water is prob- ably the most sacred thing to us right now. Simultaneous and connected water protection activities This years gathering follows an experi- mental bush camp hosted by the Keepers earlier this summer which drew attention to decolonizing water governance. I hosted some of North Americas lead- ing water scientists and a bunch of values- aligned artists technicians community mem- bers up in my territory Behn said refer- ring to northern B.C. It was a pilot project in postcolonial engagement methodology essentially taking the privileged southern- ers out of their place of comfort and putting them into the North where they are reliant upon elders and community members for their safety for their food. Then we had a discourse on water protection. Healing gathering in the oilsands Additionally while the gathering was on- going in Bushe a healing gathering for the land and water was also taking place a little farther south in Gregoire Lake. Last year we had the healing walk which ended after ve years said organizer Cleo Reece a councillor with the Fort Murray 468 First Nation. We want to continue on with the aware- ness and the message so weve decided to just have another gathering. We will go out to the affected areas that people do want to know about which is the tailing pond stuff thats out there thats visible. It sends a mes- sage that we want to continue on what we started to raise awareness and let people know that we are using our land. In the past Keepers have attended the event in solidarity with those whose lives have been impacted by contaminated waters. Looking down the river Keepers of the Water ended this years gathering by hammering out a new declara- tion the details of which were unavailable before press time. However Behn noted the direction of the Keepers might just shift looking into future initiatives. It is getting really difcult for First Na- tions especially but for people who care about water issues to be satised with ex- isting regulatory processes and thats really challenging us as an organization Behn said. I think our declarations will reect some of that frustration some of that con- cern. When traditional knowledge and cut- ting edge scientic analysis both say we are in new and dangerous times for water what does an organization thats dedicated to pro- tecting the water do PhotocourtesyofJesseCardinal The Beaver and Dene Tha First Nations hosted this years Keepers of the Water gathering only a few days after a pipeline broke in the region.