Isadore Simon recalls Rocher River before Taltson Dam
The owners of a fishing lodge in the Northwest Territories aren't the only ones who want compensation for damage cause by the Taltson Dam.
Earlier this month, the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board was ordered to revisit a decision to offer just one per cent of the compensation sought by the Nonacho Lake Fishing Camp for “irreparable damage” to their business.
The dam was built in 1966 to power the Pine Point lead-zinc mine.
Taltson has been supplying cheap hydro power to Fort Smith, Hay River, Fort Resolution and Enterprise for decades.
But for some, like Isadore Simon, the power came at a high cost.
Simon grew up at Rocher River, a community downstream from the dam.
"The water used to be crystal clear was kind of mucky-like, the fish were not as healthy as they used to be, the moose population kind of faded out. The main river that we used to fish and hunt on was just like a little channel, that's all."
Rocher River was at one point a bustling community of more than 100 people. Situated on the east bank of the Taltson River, it began as a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post and grew to include two stores and a school.
The community no longer exists.
A fire destroyed the school in 1958; the Hudson’s Bay closed up shop in 1963; and the construction of the Taltson Lake dam flooded many trap lines.
Simon says the government refused to rebuild the school, then threatened to cut off all government support for anyone who didn't move to Fort Resolution.
"Since then we've been trying to fight for it, trying to see if we can get compensated for it, but we never did,” he says.
During a renewal of the water licence for the Taltson dam,
The Deninu Kue First Nation raised the issue of compensation, but never submitted a claim.