Alta. chiefs call for moratorium on new oilsands development
Posted by mhudema on February 26, 2008
February 25, 2008
CALGARY – Aboriginal leaders in Alberta issued a call Monday for a moratorium on new oilsands development.
Chiefs from Treaties 6, 7 and 8 met last week and unanimously agreed that the Alberta government shouldn’t let any new oilsands projects go ahead until First Nations have approved watershed and resource development plans.
Chief Allan Adam of the Fort Chipewyan First Nation, which is located in the oilsands region of northern Alberta, said thresholds have to be put in place that will protect the ecosystem and human health.
“It seems like the Alberta government doesn’t want to listen to our concerns in the community,” Adam said.
However, he stressed he was not making his comments in any relation to the current provincial election campaign.
“Regardless of who’s in office after they’re done, they’re still going to have to listen to our concerns,” he said. “It’s not about an election issue, it’s about an issue that concerns Fort Chipewyan residents.”
Adam noted the Mikisew Cree and Metis groups also oppose further development.
“We’re going to hold out strong until the issue gets raised and something gets done about it regardless of who’s in office,” he said.
Adam said he was not aware of a call also made Monday by oilsands producers asking the province stop selling oilsands leases, but added he welcomes any support.
“We have to look at all the surrounding issues, the community concerns, the impacts,” he said. “There is human health at risk and we have to protect the citizens at large, regardless of whether it’s First Nations communities or the general public.”
The chiefs’ resolution states that the cumulative impacts of oilsands development “have all but destroyed the traditional livelihood of First Nations” in the area.
The energy industry group, led by Petro-Canada, Suncor, Husky Energy, Shell Canada and Imperial Oil, is calling for the suspension of land lease sales at least until 2011 in three areas around Fort McMurray.