Hand games following a community meeting in NDFN hosted by the Seal River Watershed Alliance in February 2020

Northlands Community Engagement Meeting

The first of what will be many community engagement meetings about the Seal River Watershed initiative drew a crowd of around 100 members of Northlands Denesuline First Nation (NDFN) in early February 2020.

Chief Simon Denechezhe explained why Northlands joined the initiative to protect the watershed from industrial development. Several council members also voiced their support for the initiative, which is led by Sayisi Dene First Nation.

More than 60 NDFN members at the meeting signed a referendum supporting the initiative.

Seal River Watershed Alliance Executive Director Ernie Bussidor spoke passionately about what the alliance – which also includes O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation, Barren Lands First Nation and the Inuit of Kivalliq — is hoping to achieve.

“Each of us – Dene, Cree, and Inuit – all have stories of similar origin and all have a richness of language and culture and history,” Bussidor told the crowd gathered at Petit Casimir Memorial School in Lac Brochet, Manitoba.

“We should all learn from it, and show the world our resilience, and our fierce desire to keep our lands and waters intact and unspoiled,” Bussidor said. “There is only so much wilderness left in the world, and this rare opportunity is being presented to us.”

SDFN Chief Evan Yassie (L) , NDFN Chief Simon Denechezhe (C) and Project Director Ernie Bussidor (R) speak at a community meeting on February 4, 2020. (Credit: Ron Thiessen, CPAWS.)
SDFN Chief Evan Yassie (L) , NDFN Chief Simon Denechezhe (C) and Project Director Ernie Bussidor (R) speak at a community meeting on February 4, 2020. (Credit: Ron Thiessen, CPAWS.)
A community meeting in NDFN hosted by the Seal River Watershed Alliance in February 2020 (credit: Michelle Ewacha, CPAWS)
A community meeting in NDFN hosted by the Seal River Watershed Alliance in February 2020 (credit: Michelle Ewacha, CPAWS)