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Manitoba chief faces call to quit for agreeing to nuclear waste storage study – CP

by NationTalk on March 16, 2015746 Views

Source: The Canadian Press
Mar 15, 2015

WINNIPEG, Alta. _ There are calls for northern Manitoba’s grand chief to step down over an agreement he made for a study on the risks of storing nuclear waste in the Canadian Shield.

Swampy Cree Tribal Council head Nelson Genaille says in a statement that he was shocked to find out Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief David Harper agreed to the study by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization.

Harper negotiated a two-year, $312,689 funding agreement this winter with the federal body, which oversees management of spent nuclear fuel from commercial and research reactors.

Harper has defended the deal, saying it only involves a study of the issues, not a commitment to storing spent fuel.

None of the nine proposed disposal sites is in Manitoba, but at least one at Ignace in northwestern Ontario is part of the Nelson River watershed that stretches west to Alberta.

Genaille says Harper made the agreement without the knowledge of other chiefs in the Swampy Cree council.

The statement also said the council would take no further part in the activities of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak executive until Harper has been removed from office.

“Step down for doing my job? I don’t think so,” Harper responded to media in a text message late last week.

“I’m just abiding by the MKO constitution which states, ‘Protect First Nations.”’

Manitoba adopted nuclear-free status in 1987, ruling out any storage of spent nuclear fuel from commercial or research reactors.

The Swampy Cree council also noted the MKO approved a moratorium last year on the storage or movement of nuclear waste through Cree territory.

Harper noted that similar funding was provided to First Nations in Ontario and Saskatchewan, and that First Nations need to be fully informed of the “legitimate threat that a nuclear-waste repository could pose.”

Mike Krizanc, a spokesman for the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, said legislation requires that affected aboriginal communities would have to be consulted before a final project moves forward.

“We think it’s important that communities that are potentially affected and are interested are provided with the information they want, deserve and need,” he said.

(Winnipeg Free Press)

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