Salt River chief opposes man's request to use nearby land for aboriginal ceremonies
Applicant has had permit since 2008 to use land near Fort Smith
The Salt River First Nation says it doesn't support a Fort Smith, N.W.T., man's request to keep facilitating spiritual and cultural activities, including larger aboriginal ceremonies, on Crown land 11 kilometres southwest of Fort Smith.
Lloyd Jones is applying for a new five-year land use permit so that a 1.65-hectare piece of land along Foxholes Road near Fort Smith can continue to host groups of up to 130 people during the summer, as it has done since 2008.
Land use permits are needed if a certain number of people are expected to be at a site.
In a letter to the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board, Frieda Martselos, the chief of the Salt River First Nation, voiced opposition to Jones' plan.
"The area in question is adjacent to SRFN Reserve lands and is part of our traditional territory outside reserve lands used for traditional activities like hunting.
"We are not in favour of any land use permits being issued for this area."
Martselos could not be reached and has previously declined to comment or elaborate upon the First Nation's position.
Jones declined to comment until the land and water board makes a decision on his application.
Mike Vassal, the N.W.T. Department of Lands' resource manager in Fort Smith, wrote the board earlier this month — on behalf of Jones — saying, "This location has served as a ceremonial site since 2008. To date there have been no issues and no complaints about the site or its occupants."