Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Northern Saskatchewan Nation Blockades Tar Sands, Talking to Oilsands Quest

First Nation talking to province about oilsands
Last Updated: Thursday, August 2, 2007 | 10:40 AM CT

The chief of a western Saskatchewan First Nation that blocked a road used by an oil exploration company said he's not concerned the company has moved some of its operations to Alberta.

In June, the Clearwater First Nation blocked Highway 955 north of La Loche, a route used by the Calgary-based Oilsands Quest in its search for oilsands.

The blockade ended in mid-July. Since then, the company has moved camp across the Alberta border.

However, this doesn't concern Chief Roy Cheecham, who says it's negotiations between the First Nation and the province that are key.

The band considers the Oilsands Quest exploration area part of its traditional territory. It wants guarantees of jobs and a share of the oil wealth if the exploratory project ever comes to fruition.

"We're building what we call a protocol agreement to deal with the duty to consult and accommodate and compensate," Cheecham said.

Such a plan will prevent Clearwater First Nation from being taken advantage of by the oil industry, Cheecham said.

Although there are no large oilsands projects in Saskatchewan to rival the big developments in Alberta, Oilsands Quest has in the past expressed optimism its properties in the province's northwest could be the first.

Cheecham is optimistic, too.

"There should be 1.5 to 2.5 billion barrels of oil in our back yard," he said.

Officials from Oilsands Quest declined to be interviewed.

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