The Slavey people of the community of Déné in the NWT say they are “the very first

victims of the nuclear age.”

They want Canada to acknowledge its responsibility for the nightmare of radiation poisoning that has hit the community and clean up radioactive waste in their area.

Government-sponsored uranium and radium mining near their community started the 1930s. That’s when the Eldorado mine was opened, producing uranium for the world’s first atomic bombs, dropped on the Japanese by U.S. forces.

The government operated the mine until 1960, but knew of the effects of radiation poisoning since 1932.

The people of Déné say the government is responsible for numerous radiation-related deaths and 1.7 million tonnes of radioactive waste in Great Bear Lake, Canada’s fifth-largest lake.

Young men from Déné were recruited to work at the Eldorado mine and wore no protectivegloves or clothing. They weren’t warned of the dangers. One man recalls being coated inradium dust as it leaked from heavy bags he lugged on his back.