Elder hunger striking against nuclear waste

Pictured is Emil Bell during the Walk for 7000 Generations (Photo submitted)

By Ben Ingram

A First Nations elder said he has begun a hunger strike to push for band councils to adopt a resolution banning the storage and transportation of nuclear waste in northern Saskatchewan.

Emil Bell, 70, said he began his protest two weeks ago on Sept. 6. Bell is currently camped out at Fire Lake and has been engaging local activists to deliver his band council resolutions to nearby communities.

“I’ll take it as far as I can,” Bell said on the ninth day of his hunger strike. “(I’ll stop) when I start seeing results that people are going to act, starting to do something.”

He later confirmed on Sept. 16 that he was still proceeding with the endeavour, though his energy levels were noticeably lower than only two days prior.

The activist said he’d been encouraged to launch his protest after what he observed as a lack of commitment to policy surrounding the possibility of nuclear waste storage in Saskatchewan.

“My biggest fear is one major disaster that can really pollute the waters. Once it pollutes the waters then it affects everything. All of our waters are connected up in northern Saskatchewan,” Bell explained.

His hope is that a grassroots movement can move the issue forward, as Bell feels that the premier’s stance on the issue remains uncommitted to any particular course of action.

Bell is hoping that by joining communities together against the idea, Brad Wall could be influenced to pursue the commitment of a total ban.

“That guy’s really hard to believe,” he said of recent comments indicating the government is not exploring nuclear waste storage at this time. “I don’t have any trust for him.”

Recently activists marched from Pinehouse Lake to Regina to deliver a petition against nuclear waste storage.

Max Morin of the Committee for Future Generations was one of the main organizers of the walk and he has been keeping tabs on Bell throughout the duration of the hunger strike.

“As a friend, I’ve been checking up on him every two days,” Morin said, indicating that Bell is not directly affiliated with the committee. “He’s not down to a skeleton yet but you can tell he’s losing energy, starting to talk slower.”

Morin nevertheless echoed his support for the cause, saying he hoped Bell’s initiative would create a degree of unity among northern communities.

“I think it’s very humbling. He took it upon himself and anybody that wants to starve himself, it’s an act of bravery for a cause,” Morin said, adding his feeling that Bell is committed to seeing his hunger strike through.

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