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Chief threatens blockade

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services

Hay River (July 04/05) - The chief of K'atlodeeche First Nation on the Hay River Reserve is saying the band might blockade roads and the rail line in the Hay River area if it doesn't benefit fairly from the Mackenzie Valley pipeline project.

Chief Roy Fabian addressed the opening of the GNWT's Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Office in Hay River on June 27.

Unless the First Nation gets a fair share, it will oppose the project 100 per cent, Roy Fabian said. "We'll stop traffic on the highway."

Fabian was speaking June 27 at the official opening of the territorial government's Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Office in Hay River.

Industry, Tourism and Investment Minister Brendan Bell was among the politicians, government workers and businesspeople listening to Fabian's comments.

Bell said, while the government embraces the pipeline project, it also wants to see it done properly.

"I wouldn't agree it's time to discuss things like blockades," he said.

Instead, the minister believes it is time to discuss the details of the proposed project, such as benefits to First Nations.

When interviewed later, Fabian said he has mentioned possible blockades with government and business since he became chief almost three years ago.

"I told them, 'Go ahead and plan your pipeline, but if I'm not happy with the way things are going and I don't agree with the way it's set up, I've got the go-ahead to block both the highway and the railroad,'" he said, noting he has the support of elders and council. As for what roads might be barricaded, he said,

"If we do that, it's going to be somewhere where it's going to be strategic."

Fabian said blockades would only be used if all other methods are exhausted.

"We'll go through the whole process of planning and negotiating, and hopefully it doesn't come down to that," he said.

Fabian said the First Nation has been pushed aside and marginalized for too long, pointing to development across the river in the Town of Hay River.

As for whether a blockade would be effective, he said, "It would open some eyes."