First Nations Cite damage to watershed, wildlife and hunting grounds - decry "misguided" proposal to destroy some of Alberta's most beautiful wilderness - "This project will be stopped" - Chief Makinaw
CALGARY, June 26, 2013 /CNW/ - Today, two First Nation communities in Alberta Canada announced a joint campaign to stop Coalspur's proposed Vista coal mine project- the first of four stages in a massive 470 sq/km open pit operation that would chew through some of Alberta's most unspoiled wilderness in the Eastern Slopes, impacting diverse wildlife populations and threatening one of the last hunting grounds of several First Nations' communities.
Whitefish Lake First Nation and Ermineskin Cree Nation, representing several thousand people in northern and central Alberta, have joined forces and will mobilize resources to stop the proposed project. Why? Because this is sensitive land. It is home to a wide variety of wildlife, headwaters to the critical Athabasca River and is a key traditional use area and hunting grounds for First Nations people. This land is more important than coal.
Speaking for the campaign to stop Coalspur, Ermineskin's Chief Craig Makinaw called the proposal "misguided, as well as politically and environmentally dangerous" and added, "at a time when the Government of Alberta is trying so hard to position itself as a responsible steward of the environment, why would it even consider allowing the destruction of 470 sq/km, much of which is pristine wilderness, just to help a foreign firm extract the dirtiest fuel on the planet? Grizzly Bears, elk, and other wildlife will be seriously impacted by a project of this size. It's just not worth it. If Albertans knew what Coalspur was planning, they would oppose it. We're going to make sure they know."
Royalties to the Alberta government from coal are small. Alberta is facing a worker shortage. So neither jobs nor royalties are logical reasons to permit this operation. "Coalspur seems to think they can run roughshod over the environment and the First Nations who rely on this land. They are wrong. This project will be stopped," added Whitefish's Chief James Jackson.
The campaign to stop Coalspur will be aggressive. It will start with an international awareness campaign to ensure media and the general public in Canada, Australia and abroad are fully aware of Coalspur's plans. Then, an intensive government lobbying plan will commence. Finally, if needed, any and all legal and other grassroots "on the ground" actions will be initiated to slow Coalspur's progress to a halt. "We know what motivates Coalspur, and it's not their impact on this beautiful land. It's profit. We will ensure that the cost of pursuing this project outweighs the benefits for Coalspur, their shareholders, and their investors," concluded Makinaw.
SOURCE: Whitefish Lake First Nation
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