FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: First Nation preparing for Shell’s Jackpine Mine Expansion Environmental Hearings

First Nation preparing for Shell’s Jackpine Mine Expansion Environmental Hearings

August 27, 2012 Fort McMurray, AB – For over a year the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) has been preparing for the Joint Review Panel hearings to challenge Shell Oil Canada’s proposed Jackpine Mine expansion and the Pierre River open pit mine tar sands projects.  Last week, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency announced the first hearing dates for the Jackpine Mine Expansion project starting October 29th in Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Chief and Council of the ACFN made clear commitments to protect the treaty rights of their people and the first nation feels the proposed Shell Oil projects are in breach of Treaty 8 rights leading to degradation of critical hunting, trapping, fishing lands and waterways in the region.  Shell and the ACFN have been at odds with each other since last November when the first nation filed suit against the company citing breaches of past agreements and over $1.5 mil in losses for the first nation and impacts on treaty rights.  Now the first nation has full intentions of challenging both applications at the hearings citing massive impacts on treaty rights, land and waterways.

“We are rightfully concerned about how Shell’s proposed Jackpine Mine Expansion Project will impact and infringe our rights. Our lands and way of life are supposed to be protected by Treaty and Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution Act,” stated Chief Allan Adam of ACFN.  “It’s clear Shell’s current application does not include enough information for the JRP to appropriately assess potential impacts on our rights and it’s time both government and industry to ensure our rights are protected now and into the future.”

The ACFN assert that participation in the hearing process is critical and is a chance for the people to influence the government and industry to create stronger protections for the land, the environment and the people. We hope the JRP will respect our unique rights and implement our recommendations and not let Shell slide through the approval process without addressing our concerns,” stated ACFN Councillor Anthony Ladouceur. “We will no longer stand on the side lines as Shell permanently destroys our lands, our rivers, our rights and our community.”

The ACFN communications coordinator, Eriel Deranger, stated “We hope more people will support the community by ‘signing up’ as interested parties and voice their support for the first nation and their own concerns surrounding Shell’s applications.”  People can do so by emailing before October 1, 2012. Becoming an interested party allows you to be notified of changes, hearing dates and location and when you can submit your own written/oral statements to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the Joint Review Panel.


For More information contact:

Eriel Deranger, ACFN Communications Coordinator 780-903-6598
Chief Allan Adam, 780-713-1220



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Lower Athabasca Plan fails to address the concerns of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations


Lower Athabasca Plan fails to address the concerns of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations

August 24, 2012 Fort McMurray, AB – The Lower Athabasca Regional Plan (LARP) for northeast Alberta was released this week laying out plans for managing cumulative development and conservation but failed to address the staggering number of concerns raised by the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN). Although the plan identifies six new conservation areas and minor restrictions for development in the province the first nation argues its does not adequately protect treaty rights or address how first nation guaranteed rights to continue their cultural livelihood will be included in the plan.

The ACFN have been in dialogue with the province discussing co-management, implementation of first nation traditional ecological knowledge into western science methodologies, development of partnerships and concrete commitments to address their unique rights and land base. However, LARP leaves first nation co-management, rights, title and knowledge out of the equation. Instead, it sets weak provincial environmental standards that don’t address cumulative effects, the destruction of traditional territories and ecosystems critical to the first nation while setting the stage for unabated increase in tar sands operations.

“Your plan, your land, your future?  This is not our plan it’s the governments plan to annihilate our lands and our future. There are no commitments to our people and no protection of our lands and rights.  We thought we were working towards a partnership with the government, but this plan doesn’t reflect that,” states Chief Allan Adam of ACFN.  “Instead, they want more discussion. We should be equals sitting at the table from start to finish not just called on when they need to give the optics that we’ve been consulted, particularly the day before a new plan is launched. Our people and our rights are constantly being undermined by policies and plans like LARP that are created without meaningful participation in the development and implementation.”

The plan states, “the Alberta government will look for opportunities to engage these communities and invite them to share their traditional ecological knowledge to inform land and natural resource planning in this region,” but stops short of making any real commitments to allow first nations to be full contributors to the plan or assist with its implementation ensuring treaty rights now and into the future. The ACFN asserts this is nothing more then a demonstration of how the federal government is downloading it’s responsibilities of cumulative environmental management to the province and the province is creating weak systems that do nothing more then impede treaty and aboriginal rights and the environment.

The First Nation also criticizes the current protection zones created in LARP stating their own stewardship plan, Nih Boghodi, created by elders, indigenous knowledge holders and western scientist, identified much larger protection zones for culturally significant wildlife, such as caribou and bison herds, and a need for co-management. The first nation states the lands set for protection in the plan are minimal at best and not adequate for survival of species and treaty rights and completely forgo protection of any of their treaty territory, something the first nation has been requesting for many years. Chief Adam indicated the first nation will be putting the plan before legal council to explore potential litigation if need be.

“If we don’t stand up for our rights now and work to protect the land and animals, what are we leaving for future generations?” said Elder Pat Marcel Elder of the ACFN. “The current plan is paving the way for full environmental and economic destruction of our lands, people and treaties. We can no longer accept the status quo if this plan is implemented as is.  We are the stewards of this land and we will do what needs to be done to ensure our lands and rights are protected now and into the future.”


For More information contact:

Eriel Deranger, ACFN Communications Coordinator 780-903-6598
Chief Allan Adam, 780-713-1220


Tar Sands Healing Walk Press Release

More Than 250 First Nations and Allies From Across North America Gather In Alberta To Raise Awareness

First Nations delegations from British Columbia and Ontario show growing concern and resolve against tar sands infrastructure projects across Canada.

FORT MCMURRAY ALBERTA (August 4, 2012) – Hundreds of First Nations leaders from BC, Alberta, the NWT and Ontario along with First Nation actress Tantoo Cardinal and allies from across North America, gathered in Fort McMurray today, to walk 13-kilometres through the visceral landscape of tar sands operations to bring attention to the destructive impacts of tar sands projects and pipelines on surrounding communities and the environment.

First Nation representatives from the Heiltsuk (BC), Yinka Dene (BC), Coastal First Nations (BC), the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Six Nations (Ontario) and Aamijiwnaang (Ontario) joined with local First Nations leaders in a traditional mixing of the waters ceremony, bringing water from their respective territories as a symbol of importance of the protection of water and the sacred connection to mother earth.

Local elders led the group in prayers along the route that was once valuable northern Boreal forest and fertile traditional hunting, fishing and gathering grounds, stopping in the four directions to lay down tobacco as an offering for healing of the land.

“We have come from all over North America to walk together through the heart of the destruction caused by the ever-expanding tar sands and offer prayers for the healing of the land and its people,” said Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus. “For more than 500 years governments have fought over our lands and resources. It’s time the provincial and federal governments sit down with the First Nations, the rightful owners of these lands and resources, to decide if and when these lands should be developed.”

The third annual healing walk was organized by Keepers of the Athabasca, a network of First Nation, Metis and allied communities along the Athabasca River that includes people whose lives have been directly impacted by tar sands operations.

“The places where we used to pick berries and find our medicines have been destroyed by rapid tar sands projects,” said Anthony Ladouceur, Councillor of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. “Our people have lived here for thousands of years, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to continue to live off the land with industry expanding all around us.”

The Alberta tar sands currently produce approximately 1.8 million barrels of oil per day; if industry and government’s expansion plans are approved that number could reach six million barrels per day. Local opposition to Shell’s two proposed open pit mine applications is growing, along with North American-wide resistance to pipeline proposals. Four pipelines are being proposed to transport tar sands oil: Enbridge Northern Gateway, Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain, Trans Canada Keystone XL, and Enbridge Line 9 reversal.

“I am deeply honoured to have the opportunity to participate in the 3rd Annual Tar Sands Healing Walk,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “This sacred walk serves to remind us that we, as parents and grandparents, have the unconditional responsibility to safeguard and pass on the legacy of respecting and caretaking Mother Earth, entrusted to us by our ancestors, to our children and grandchildren.”

“This walk creates strength and unity among the people who have to live with the destructive impacts of tar sands. Together, we are more empowered to ensure a clean and healthy world for future generations,” said Roland Woodward Chair of the Keepers of the Athabasca.

The walk was not a protest, but a spiritual gathering to offer prayers for the healing of Mother Earth and all those negatively impacted by tar sands projects and associated infrastructure. Participants walked along Highway 63 past Suncor and Syncrude’s operations to help heal what has been destroyed and to give each other the spiritual strength to carry on.

To Arrange Media Interviews :

Eriel Deranger 780-903-6598
Melina Laboucan-Massimo 780-504-5567

Roland Woodward, Keepers of the Athabasca, 780-972-1339
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of BC Indian Chiefs, 250-490-5314
Chief Bill Erasmus, Dene Nation 613-859-5063
Anthony Ladouceur, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation 780-881-5115


Media Advisory

Hundreds to participate in third annual Tar Sands Healing Walk

For Immediate Release

1 August 2012 (Edmonton, AB) – Hundreds of First Nations leaders and allies from across North America will gather in Fort McMurray to walk 13 kilometres through the heart of Alberta’s tar sands operations as part of the third annual healing walk. The walk will begin with a traditional water ceremony where water brought from various communities is mixed together followed by speakers from tar sands and pipeline impacted communities. During the walk itself local Elders will lead prayers along the route in the four directions offering prayers for the healing of Mother Earth and all those negatively impacted by tar sands projects. The walk will take approximately 4 hours and be followed by a feast at the Anzac community Hall.

Who – First Nations, Metis, settlers, and allies from across Canada and the United States
What – Third annual healing week
When – Saturday, August 4, 2012 at 10 am
Where – Crane Lake Park off Highway 63 – 20 km North of Fort McMurray

For more information, please contact:

Eriel Deranger – 780 903 6598
Melina Laboucan-Massimo – 780 504 5567