The GNWT will be taking over water quality monitoring at three sites near the Alberta-NWT border.
Dene Nation national chief Norman Yakeleya and Premier Caroline Cochrane met Friday to discuss next steps in water safety for the territory including the temporary assumption of monitoring at Fort Fitzgerald, Peace River, and along the Hay River, Yakeleya told NNSL Media.
He said it is critical to ensure that officials here are monitoring whatever is coming downstream from the Fort McMurray oil sands and emphasizes the importance of the GNWT stepping up to take over a federal responsibility.
“Canada cannot use Covid as an excuse not to do the water quality monitoring,” he said.
Joslyn Oosenbrug, an ENR spokesperson, said that “The GNWT continues to make its concerns known about the suspension of water quality monitoring in Alberta to both the Governments of Alberta and Canada and to advocate for all monitoring to resume, especially the Oil Sands Monitoring Program sites identified under the Alberta-NWT Bilateral Water Management Agreement.”
She confirmed that Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has “agreed to support the GNWT to temporarily conduct water quality sampling at three key ECCC long-term monitoring sites near the NWT border.”
Since the funding announcement, the GNWT has asked both the Government of Alberta and the ECCC to be a part of the oversight committee of the Oil Sands Monitoring Program.
“There’s no Northern representative on that committee that has a lot of say,” Yakeleya said. “These people are making decisions and not having any notification to the people of the North.”
Yakeleya said that while the GNWT and Dene Nation sometimes disagree, it was “refreshing” to be on the same page as a “united front” in protecting the quality of the territory’s water.
“Water affects all of us,” he said. “We’ve got to work together to let the federal government know that we cannot wait for them. . . We have to do that we have to do as Northern people.”