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.”


For More information contact:

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

Eriel Deranger, Communication Coordinator ACFN 780-903-6598


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

  1. 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. 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.

  3. […] NORTHERN JOURNAL: “Norway church backs Dene Oilsands fight”…”Bishop, Sami Parliament ask Statoil to pull out of Alberta” by Meagan Wohlberg Excerpt:  ” A prominent bishop in Norway is the latest luminary to throw some weight behind Francois Paulette’s campaign against the oil sands, which took the Dene elder from Smith’s Landing First Nation on a tour of the Scandinavian country this month”……”all 12 bishops of the Church of Norway have joined opposition to Canada’s oil sands in solidarity with Canada’s indigenous peoples.” “ACFN heads to Shell AGM in Netherlands by Meagan Wohlberg Excerpt:  ” Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) is sending a representative to the Hague in the Netherlands this week to confront shareholders of oil sands company Royal Dutch Shell at their annual general meeting May 22.”…”The First Nation is adamantly rejecting Shell’s two future oilsands project proposals, the Jackpine mine expansion and Pierre River mine.” “Majority of oilsands companies foreign-owned – Report hits back at attack on ‘foreign funded environmentalists’ By Meagan Wohlberg Excerpt:  “A report by environmental group ForestEthics Advocacy shows that 71 percent of all oil sands production is owned by foreign companies.” Bloggers Note:  Co-founder of ForestEthics, Tzeporah Berman, is quoted in this article as saying “With the majority of profits from the tar sands operations flowing to foreign companies, we need to ask in whose interest is the Government of Canada under Prime Minister Harper serving?” 15 oil companies were looked at in the review, nine have headquarters in Canada and ForestEthics found that over 50% of all nine of these headquartered in Canada are actually owned by foreign interests. Excerpt:  ” The study also found that over (51.1 percent) of all oil and gas operating revenue in Canada went to foreign entities, such as China.  According to Skuce, Canada is quickly becoming China’s “resource colony.”" BLOGGERS NOTE: The new 2012 Federal Budget is targeting environmentalists/Groups by stipulating that “charitable organizations WILL NOT be able to register as donors and receive income tax credits unless they are pursuing activities “in the national interest of Canada.”  Those opposing Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline have been accused by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver of being “foreign funded radicals.” Question:  IS IT NOT IN THE ” national interest of Canada” TO protect OUR ENVIRONMENT, OUR LAND, OUR WATER, OUR WILDLIFE????? IS IT NOT IN THE ” national interest of Canada” TO PROTECT OUR HERITAGE, TO ENSURE THAT FUTURE GENERATIONS WILL ACTUALLY HAVE A PRISTINE CANADA TO RAISE THEIR OWN FAMILIES?? Apparently to Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, apparently to the current Prime Minister of Canada and to the Conservative Party now in power, none of this matters whatsoever as long as our countries continued exploitation and sell out moves forward as planned. Harper’s plan “to block foreign funding of environmental organizations” has far reaching implications.  ForestEthics Advocacy was formed by “breaking off” as a “new arm of the registered charity,ForestEthics in order to engage in political activity following the budget announcement.” ANIMAL ALLIANCE ENVIRONMENT VOTERS PARTY OF CANADA (AAEV) IS THE ONLY REGISTERED POLITICAL PARTY IN CANADA FOCUSED ON ENVIRONMENTAL AND ANIMAL PROTECTION ISSUES As a Registered Political Party the AAEV is in the position whereby they are able to engage activity opposing the Conservative plans to Sell Out Canada, to gut Environmental protection and “to degrade, to destroy, to kill the environment and animals” .   As a Registered Political Party donations in support of the AAEV are Contributions to a Canadian Political Party and are therefore issued Tax Receipts which may be claimed on individual Tax Returns. Having myself, represented the AAEV during the 2011 Federal Election, I am very proud to say that I did receive votes here in the NWT.  I am extremely proud to be part of an amazing organization that continues to fight to protect Canada and my support will continue. I urge everyone to visit : In a message from Director, Liz White: “The Harper Conservatives have declared war on environmental charities.  They’ve threatened them with the Canada Revenue Agency persecuting them and revoking their charitable status if they speak out honestly and accurately about Canada’s most environmentally destructive industries.  It’s for this reason that Dr. David Suzuki was forced to resign from his own foundation.  It was the only way he could be free to speak out.” “The Minister at the Canada Revenue Agency which the Conservatives will use to persecute environmental charities is none other than Gail Shea, the former Fisheries Minister who waged war on harp seals and grey seals with deceit, bogus science, and baseless slander against animal protection groups.  She’ll relish persecuting green charities.” BLOGGERS NOTE:   Additional Information will be posted shortly. Currently circulating on Facebook FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Fort Chipewyan community alarmed: Two deformed and lesion covered fish caught […]

  4. 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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