An evacuation road through Wood Buffalo National Park is getting closer to becoming a reality.
Discussions about a possible path have been ongoing for many years with many Indigenous groups, such as the Mikisew Cree First Nation, originally opposing the idea.
However, times have changed and the MCFN recently held a meeting on July 30 in Fort Smith with other First Nations groups, Parks Canada, and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo to see what would be needed to get the project started.
“I don’t think (a wildfire) would ever happen but you never say that because it happened in Fort McMurray,” said Chief Archie Waquan, MCFN.
This path, which would be an all-purpose road, would go across the park allowing people across the Fort Chipewyan area to access different communities west of the National Park.
The MCFN also wants to see the road go through the Peace Point Reserve, an area they want to see be developed.
“Peace Point Reserve, right now, is pretty much dormant, idle, not doing anything and if we can develop it, even through this upcoming road, I think it’s good,” added Waquan.
In a statement to Mix News, Parks Canada says funding would have to come from these groups and afterward the federal government may require an assessment before the project can get started.
The MCFN has already put forward $50,000 and are asking other First Nations to do the same.
Meanwhile, the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation isn’t on board with the proposed road.
Chief Allan Adam says they can’t support this project until the federal government formally apologizes for “forcing” his people from the area decades earlier.
“How am I supposed to give my approval for this when we are not even allowed in the park, nor were we given an apology letter – yet Canada wants us to agree.”
He adds the ACFN isn’t against the project but just can’t support it at this time.
Another meeting to discuss the road is scheduled to take place in either late August or early September.