“The exploitation of the tar sands is a human-rights issue, an environmental-justice issue and an indigenous treaty-rights issue”
Clayton Thomas-Muller, writing in the March-April issue of Canadian Dimension:
For the most part, however, the public in Canada and the U.S. has not been made sufficiently aware of what is going on in northern Alberta. The public still does not understand that the indigenous First Nations communities are the populations most negatively affected. Dene and Cree First Nations and Métis live close to or actually in the midst of these tar-sand deposits, mostly along the Athabasca River basin area. These are the indigenous communities of Fort McMurray, Fort McKay and Fort Chipewyan. …
The ability of First Nations to retain their inherent sovereignty rights to protect their lands and culture, and to maintain economically sustainable and healthy communities has been hampered by the Canadian and Alberta governments. According to many elders and land-based community members in the tar-sands area, concerns for jobs, housing, income and economic development are being prioritized over the traditional indigenous values of respect for the sacredness of Mother Earth and the protection of the environment.
A moratorium on further tar-sands expansion must be implemented in northern Alberta. Since the tar-sands expansion is within First Nations’ territories, any effective strategy must acknowledge Aboriginal title and treaty rights. This will require an urgent, coordinated, collective response, led by First Nations and Métis.