Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and the Tar Sands

Updates and info on ACFN's case against Shell Oil

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Fort Chipewyan community alarmed: Two deformed and lesion covered fish caught in Lake Athabasca

Fort McMurray – May 31, 2012 – Wednesday afternoon members of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN), including Chief Allan Adam, found two grotesquely deformed, lesion covered Fish in Lake Athabasca near the community of Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, a remote fly in community in Northern Alberta. The Suckerfish and Jackfish were found at two separate locations on Lake Athabasca Wednesday afternoon and are now stored in the community and will be sent for analysis at the CCWHC lab in Calgary.

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Pictures of the fish show lesions and sores across the fish’s entire body raising concerns among community members in Fort Chipewyan.

“These fish are just another reminder of why we have to keep challenging government and industry about the pace of development and what it’s doing to our water and land. Government and industry are clearly failing to adequately protect our waterways and wildlife from contamination upstream,” states Chief Adam.  “This is a clear indication of violations to the current Fisheries Act and our constitutionally protected Treaty rights.  If we continue to allow irresponsible development in the region what is going to be left for the next generation of our people?”

This is not the first time fish deformities have been found in the region, in September 2010 a slideshow of fish with tumors, deformities and signs of disease or infection collected from Athabasca region, downstream from the tar sands was presented to the public and made headlines.  Since this time the community has been waiting for independent studies on the health effects of the tar sands on the fish and people in northern Alberta. Instead of stronger protection and monitoring government announced drastic changes to the Fisheries Act removing provisions that prevent any industrial activities that “result in the harmful alteration, disruption, or destruction of fish habitat.”

Members of ACFN and much of the larger community of Fort Chipewyan are long time critics of upstream tar sands development and its impacts on traditional hunting, fishing, and gathering practices. Chief Adam, like many other residents of Fort Chipewyan, hold unique treaty rights that protect their ability to continue practicing traditional and cultural lifestyles that are now being impeded by encroaching tar sands projects, large water withdrawals and contamination of vital waterways.  In the wake of government failure to protect sacred and vital waterways and land ACFN sees no other choice but to seriously explore their own independent monitoring and stewardship plans that would adequately monitor and protect the land and waterways.

Chief Adam and ACFN have been vocal opponents to what they are calling irresponsible tar sands development in the Athabasca Delta.  ACFN filed suit against oil giant Shell Oil Canada in 2011 citing the company failed to meet past agreement for two of its open pit mining projects.  Chief Adam has publicly stated ACFN plans to challenge Shell Oil Canada’s two new proposed tar sands projects stating that allowing these projects to proceed would further impact their territory and way of life by taking away land, putting species at risk, lowering water levels and contaminating the fish supply.

“Enough is enough, we can no longer let the government grant permit after permit without adequately addressing impacts to our rights, our lands and the environment. We will do everything in our power to ensure that our water, our land and our rights are protected by pursuing all avenues for our own independent monitoring and stewardship of the region.”

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For More information contact:

Chief Allan Adam, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation 780-713-1220

Eriel Deranger, Communication Coordinator ACFN 780-903-6598

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8 thoughts on “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Fort Chipewyan community alarmed: Two deformed and lesion covered fish caught in Lake Athabasca

  1. raine on said:

    I feel for the people’s of the area and not just our sister’s and brother’s of the community, I’m having trouble understanding of how this can be, And why this is happening in the first place,Just down south here in Sask, but part of Alberta ,And Manitoba, There a many issue of how the animal’s are affected by the wrong doing of the land, Well what I don’t get is ,Why is it then and when someone has found a animal in distress and are deformed? that the issue of the “white man” hurting the land and all,But here the people’s don’t have any thing to say when the check’s getting to them, And is not so that the people’s have sold the land up there for the “white man” to do as they wish as long as the native’s of the area get “their payment’s”when payment’s are arrived and cashed that’s when all is well , And then when there seem’s to a problem when the issued payment’s are not received then that’s when people say something, I find that a bit of being hypocritical,It’s just like down here, The reserve’s have made a damn and now that has made a big issue of the water and living of the wet land’s, I have seen this before, But it is sad that there is blame on a race just cause of what all of our ignorance is from,, Greed and Ignorance,,It was and had been said quote”ALL THING’S ARE CONNECTED LIKE THE BLOOD THAT UNITE’S US, WE DID NOT WEAVE THE WEB OF LIFE,WE ARE MERELY A STRAND IN IT. WHATEVER WE DO TO THE WEB,WE DO TO OURSELVES.

  2. Raymond supernault on said:

    Them are some crazy pictures and it just goes to show how the alberta gov monitors all of the animals thats roam mother earth .I feel that the monitoring of animals should be done by aborigionl people that live of the land .We know how oil and gas and ect effects the earth but who listens to us ,no one just a bunch of indians trying to be heard or they want money which is a crock of you no what.We are the land lords of mother earth so unite and defend and speak on behalf of the creatures that roam our areas before they are just a thought of the past.

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  7. slowly but surely citizens across this province, country and indeed the world are becoming aware of the harm the tar sands are causing to the environment, people and wildlife. one would think that the more we come to understand what an ecological nightmare the tar sands are, the more we would be inclined to take action to stop it, or at the very least, slow it down.

    but sadly, that hasn’t happened yet. due in no small part to the fact that our provincial and federal governments seem more interested in promoting the over-inflated economic benefits of the tar sands than they are in providing reliable independent, quality monitoring of the water and air surrounding industrial operations.

    you expect oil and gas companies to tout all the “magnificent advantages” their activities will bestow upon the community. but it ought to be up to our elected representatives to insure that the people and wildlife who are going to be affected by these industries will be kept safe from any danger they may pose.

    but no, they are willing to sacrifice our health, destroy wild nature and continue to allow alberta to be the world’s worst (or best) contributor to climate change with an average of 69 tonnes of co2 belched into the atmosphere per person every year.

    all for short term economic gain to feed an increasingly unjust and immoral system, that allows a few at the top to reap massive rewards while leaving so many nearer the bottom to suffer.

    sooner or later, however, the chickens will come home to roost. history has shown than any institution, system or lifestyle that cannot or will not provide for the greatest good for the greatest number over the longest period of time, will eventually and inevitably be abolished.

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