Dehcho, Chipewyan nations call for oilsands moratorium

by January 31, 2007

From – Northern First Nations are calling for a halt to further development in Alberta’s oilsands, saying the massive industrial growth is hurting their land, their water and their people.

Dehcho First Nations Grand Chief Herb Norwegian told a news conference in Fort McMurray Tuesday the effect of the massive development can be felt downstream along the Mackenzie River system.

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“When our people go visit their fish nets or harvest their waterfowl they’re definitely seeing a problem with the water,” said Norwegian, who is meeting with native leaders from northern Alberta this week.

The health of the Mackenzie River system is paramount to the Northwest Territories’ Dehcho people, who still rely on fishing and hunting, he said.

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation band councillor Allan Adam said Lake Athabasca’s water level has dropped nearly three metres in the past 20

“You can walk all the way to the south shore of Lake Athabasca with probably hip waders on — that’s how shallow the water has gone,” he said.

He thinks the lower levels are due to the massive amounts of water taken out of the watershed during the oil production process.

Although the federal and provincial governments have failed to act on the issue to date, Adam he said it’s not too late for them to protect the water resource.