First Nations rebut Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

TORONTO, March 5 /CNW/ - Yesterday, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) responded to the "Avatarsands" ad in Hollywood's Variety newspaper, making a variety of misleading claims regarding First Nations. See:

Here is some of the First Nations response to CAPP:

"We used to be able to drink water directly from Beaver Lake and it didn't hurt us. We can no longer do that, and we can no longer make a traditional way of life in our home territory because of the tar sands developments. The oil companies can phrase it any way they like but no one has ever not dug for oil because of us and we don't find the consultation process meaningful."

Ron Lameman, Beaver Lake Cree Nation

"While First Nations have been in the region for more than 10,000 years, major tarsands companies like Syncrude and Suncor have been leasees in our traditional homelands for only a fraction of that time, 40 years to be exact, I would question CAPP's take on characterizing us as "their" neighbours. I am a member and former Chief of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, the largest First Nation in the Athabasca tarsands and today our First Nation has no "formal" relationship with Syncrude or Suncor, that after 40 years is not something I would characterize as good corporate responsibility. They actually have both recently been applying pressure to the First Nations in our community of Fort Chipewyan for speaking out publicly about environmental, health and other issues that we have observed with the unrelenting pace of tarsands development in the past few years.

While we do have First Nations members employed in the industry and First Nation owned companies as contractors to tarsands companies, there is a growing concern by First Nations in the region who question our involvement in the industry.

First Nations especially the Mikisew Cree have recently intervened in several hearings for the multibillion dollar project applications and have recommended a moratorium on many of these applications until many of our issues were mitigated or science has caught up to the multitude of questions. So I would question CAPP and other oil companies suggesting that we are their "full partners and stakeholders" endorsing their actions.

Having productive relationships with the oil and gas sector and endorsing their licences to operate is far from the truth from a First Nation perspective."

George Poitras, Mikisiew Cree

"CAPP does not speak for aboriginal people; we will speak for ourselves. More and more of us are saying we don't want your tar sands, we don't want your pipelines, and we don't want your oil tankers.

We aren't interested in being partners with an industry association that has shown such blatant disregard for our basic human rights. CAPP claims to address our "economic, social and cultural needs," but when our need is for them to stay out of our territories, it's only their own economic needs that get addressed."

David Luggi, Chief of the Carrier-Sekani Tribal Council

SOURCE Environmental Defence

For further information: For further information: Ron Lameman, Beaver Lake Cree Nation, (780) 623-4549; George Poitras, Mikisiew Cree, (780) 239-6166; David Luggi, Carrier-Sekani Tribal Council, (250) 562-6279

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