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Houseboaters 'squatting' on Yellowknives Dene First Nation's side of bay must leave, chief says

The Yellowknives Dene First Nation is warning houseboaters — current and future — that it won’t tolerate those who anchor on the nation’s side of Yellowknife Bay.

'We will continue to assert our treaty rights and sovereignty as long as the sun shines,' says First Nation

Yellowknives Dene First Nation says houseboaters that try to set up on the nation's side of Yellowknife Bay won't be tolerated. (Sara Minogue/CBC)

The Yellowknives Dene First Nation is warning houseboaters — current and future — that it won't tolerate those who anchor on the nation's side of Yellowknife Bay.

In a statement issued on Monday, the First Nation says it takes issue with the unauthorized land and water occupancy within the Yellowknives Dene Traditional Chief Drygeese Asserted Community Area.

In particular, it called out houseboaters that established themselves within the area.

"These acts of unauthorized occupancy are disrespectful to YKDFN, a sovereign nation, who have occupied and used the area since time immemorial: before even the existence of the City of Yellowknife," the statement reads in part.

Chief Ernest Betsina says members of the YKDFN notified him of five to six houseboats in their territory. He says the houseboaters will be served with a notice to move shortly.

He says he wants them gone before Great Slave Lake freezes. He says the window to ask chief and council for permission to anchor there has closed.

Betsina says it seems there are more houseboaters each year.

"There's about five to six houseboaters out there that more or less are squatting ... without chief or council permission," Betsina said. He believes the homes arrived sometime over the summer.

A map by Yellowknives Dene First Nation illustrates the off-limits areas for unauthorized water residences like houseboats. (Yellowknives Dene First Nation)

It's not the first time this has happened, Betsina said. In a previous incident, he said the water froze before the houseboater could leave.

"We do not want to repeat that," he said.

The nation's statement says the unauthorized dwellers are an infringement of the nation's rights, protected under the Canadian Constitution.

"We will continue to assert our treaty rights and sovereignty as long as the sun shines, the river flows, and the grass grows."

With files from John Van Dusen

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