Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Indigenous Nations Governments Challenging Tar Sands

Oilsands Facing Aboriginal Opposition

Copyright 2007 Nickle's Energy Group Copyright, a division of HCN
Publications Company
All Rights Reserved
Daily Oil Bulletin

A couple of First Nations groups are protesting oilsands operations
in their backyards.

The Woodland Cree First Nation (WCFN) says it intends to file an
intervention with the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board regarding
Shell Canada Limited's Carmon Creek oilsands project near Peace River.

Meanwhile the Clearwater River Dene Nation in northwest Saskatchewan
June 21 erected a roadblock to protest Oilsands Quest Inc.'s
exploration to delineate a potential in situ oilsands project.

A press release issued by the Woodland Cree June 25 said that over
the last 40 years the WCFN has seen its treaty and aboriginal rights,
and its very culture, threatened by rapidly increasing industrial
development from oil and gas, forestry and now oilsands developments.

"Such development has gradually eaten away the land available to our
First Nation. Our lives have become poorer with each hectare of land
no longer available to us to practise our traditional pursuits, as
guaranteed by Treaty 8," said WCFN Chief William Whitehead.

The press release said Shell's project is located within its
traditional territory and is very close to its main reserve at
Cadotte Lake.

"Although the project has the potential to cause very significant
adverse impacts to WCFN's Treat 8 and Aboriginal rights, to the
environment and to present and future generations of WCFN members,
neither Canada nor Alberta has bothered to consult with the WCFN
about the project."

Shell did not comment on the press release.

Whitehead said Shell's existing oilsands facility, located less than
10 kilometres from its main reserve, has already infringed its
hunting, trapping and fishing rights and has harmed the water and air
within its traditional territory and around its reserves.

"We are very concerned that the Carmon Creek expansion and the other
oilsands projects that will inevitably follow will devastate our
Treaty 8 rights, that we will be unable to practise our traditional
pursuits, maintain our physical health and that we will be unable to
pass down our culture on our lands around this project."

WCFN states it wants to see:

- a regional planning process established to look at the cumulative
effects of oilsands and other resource developments on WCFNs treaty
rights, its members, the environment, human health and an examination
of mitigation measures to prevent a repeat of the Ft. McMurray scenario;

- local and regional health effects studies established to collect
baseline information on health conditions of Woodland Cree members,
area residents and wildlife (especially those species relied upon for
sustenance purposes);

- a comprehensive and inclusive study on the impacts of present and
proposed oil and gas and other developments on wildlife populations
relied on for sustenance purposes;

- an investigation to be carried out by professional health experts
to ascertain the extent and causes of pervasive health problems,
especially respiratory illnesses, being suffered by members of WCFN

- studies to be carried out by water-resource experts on damages done
by oilsands and other developments to water bodies within WCFNs
traditional territory, especially damages to Cadotte Lake;

- comprehensive, meaningful and direct consultation established by
Alberta and Canada with the WCFN; and

- a joint environmental assessment review panel established by Canada
and Alberta for Shell's Carmon Creek application.

"We will take any and all necessary legal steps to challenge Shell's
project and any other future oilsands projects unless and until
Alberta and Canada carry out their duties to consult with our First
Nation and accommodate our rights and interests," said Whitehead.

Christopher Hopkins, president and chief executive officer of
Oilsands Quest, said the company's base camp and current operations
at the Axe Lake discovery, about 150 kilometres from the roadblock,
have not been affected by it.

"Oilsands Quest has been working closely with the communities in the
northwest region, in particular the Clearwater River Dene Nation and
the town of La Loche, on training, employment and other commercial
benefits, and we will continue to do so in the future," he stated in
a press release.

He said the company has pro-actively established an excellent record
for local employment and purchase of goods and services in northwest

Oilsands Quest has been negotiating with CRDN to formalize an
Exploration Benefits Agreement, he said, adding the company is also
in discussion with the mayor and council of La Loche for a similar

He said the CRDN broke off discussions at a meeting Oilsands Quest
had with the CRDN chief and council in Saskatoon on June 20.

Oilsands Quest's press release quotes a June 21 CRDN release as
saying: "Clearwater tabled a draft agreement that included provisions
which met industry standards in relation to benefits to accrue to the
First Nation. Oilsands Quest proposed an agreement which fell short
of industry standards in all respects."

"We simply disagree," said Hopkins. "I have been involved in oilsands
development for years, and have seen many different forms of benefits
arrangements. These agreements differ depending on the project and
its impact, and the particular rights and interests of the
communities concerned. There is no industry standard. Oilsands Quest
tabled a draft agreement that was fair to all stakeholders and the
CRDN. In our view, the CRDN draft did not meet that standard. It
demanded that the CRDN have priority over all other First Nations
people, Métis and other residents of neighbouring communities."

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