STOP: Stop Tar Sands Operations Permanently

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Fort Chip. residents rally at legislature

Posted by mhudema on March 3, 2008

March 1, 2008

By The Canadian Press


People rally at the Legislative grounds to support the people of Fort Chipewyan. Increasing numbers of people from the aboriginal community in Fort Chipewyan have been diagnosed with cancer and other auto-immune diseases. (Jack Dagley/Special to Sun Media)

EDMONTON — People who have lost multiple family members and friends to cancer on a northern Alberta reserve choked back tears as they told their stories at a rally Saturday in front of the Alberta legislature.About 200 people, many of whom who made the 800-kilometre drive down from Fort Chipewyan, stood before the legislature steps holding signs with slogans such as “Water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.”

Many members of the tiny community believe oilsands development and major forestry mills in Fort McMurray, which is upstream from Fort Chipewyan, have led to contamination of the water and wildlife in the region.

They say this has resulted in a high incidence of rare cancers and auto-immune diseases in the community of 1,200.

Stephanie Courtoreille, whose cousin, Grant, died of cancer in January, says she doesn’t want a halt to oilsands development, but thinks it should be slowed down while studies are done on the community.

A study by epidemiologists at the Alberta Cancer Board released in 2006 found rates of cancer in the community were comparable to the provincial average.

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