Indigenous Peoples, Community Members and Allies raise concerns.
EDMONTON, Dec. 15 /CNW/ - The Royal Society of Canada report on the tar
sands released today, spurred concern by directly impacted communities
and allies today as conclusions were put forward around the impacts of
tar sands development within the region.
"With data coming from primarily government and industry sources, this
report will likely lead to further inaction on addressing the concerns
of community members who live in fear of drinking their water or from
consuming traditional foods or medicines," said Clayton Thomas-Muller,
Tar Sands Campaigner of the Indigenous Environmental Network. "This
situation violates International Human rights laws and Canada's own
constitutional laws pertaining to First Nations rights."
The report seeks to come to conclusions on the extent and toxicity of
air and water pollution but those conclusions are based primarily on
data from industry and RAMP, the government body the panel completely
condemns in other sections of the report. The report also tries to draw
conclusions about elevated cancer rates in Fort Chipewyan without ever
talking to the Indigenous communities, or incorporating Indigenous
Traditional Ecological knowledge.
"What I find most alarming about this report is it uses a lot of
industry and government data and ignores the thousands of years of
traditional knowledge or land use of the Dene people. It's undeniable
that our people have seen significant impacts on the levels and quality
of our river and lakes due to the tar sands. We have seen sicknesses
and disappearance of traditional food sources," exclaimed Chief Allan
Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. "Our people are not
arbitrary land users we are the rightful protectors and stewards of the
land. Our rights are constitutionally protected and recognized within
International conventions including the UN Declaration on the Rights of
No new scientific research was undertaken by the Royal Society of Canada
in developing this report. The report relied in several sections
primarily on government and/or industry data. Concerns that have been
echoed by environmental and community organizations.
"This report seems to downplay some of the only independent scientific
research done on the Athabasca water systems and traditional food
sources in the area." stated Eriel Deranger of the Rainforest Action
Network. "Both Schindler and Timoney have found elevated levels of
contaminants in the watershed, a critical habitat for fish, waterfowl
and other large mammals that many of the First Nations people rely on -
it is very concerning to see scientists of this stature try to
undermine this evidence."
"Despite the conclusions within this report, the truth is that how these
tar sands are affecting local people and their traditional lands can
only be described as deadly. There has been a clear lack of
participation by our Elders and knowledge holders in the review of tar
sands impacts, undermining an honest and holistic assessment of what is
really going on in this region," asserted Alice Martin, Cree Elder.
"What is terrible is that this report suggests that the Indigenous
people who have the traditional knowledge, the people of the land, do
not know what they are talking about when it comes to the environmental
and health impacts in there community! It is evident that the ugly
truth about the tar sands is not what the government wants to hear,
because it will impact the economy in a negative way, but the question
is how will this lack of truth impact the people who have lived for
generations on this land?"
"It has been shown time and time again that Indigenous knowledge offers
us greater insight into assessing environmental issues. The UN
convention of biological diversity reiterates the importance of
including Indigenous Knowledge with respect to assessing impacts on bio
diversity," explained Sheila Muxlow, Director of Sierra Club Prairie.
"Before anyone can come to conclusions about the impacts of tar sands
operations on the health of the region there must be an inclusion of
Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge within the assessment."
SOURCE INDIGENOUS ENVIRONMENTAL NETWORK
For further information: For further information:
Clayton Thomas Muller, Tar Sands Campaigner, IEN 218-760-6632
Eriel Deranger, Freedom from Oil Campaigner, RAN, 780-903-6598
Alice Martin, Cree Elder 780-880-5179
Sheila Muxlow, Director, Sierra Club Prairie 780-660-0312