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Between the sands and a hard place?: Aboriginal peoples and the oil sands

Author(s): Urquhart, I.

Year: 2010

Canada's aboriginal peoples are one of the constituencies most affected by the oil sands boom that has swept across northeastern North Alberta in western Canada since the mid-1990s. This paper considers reaction of these First Nations to exploring the oil sands. It argues that the conventional view of First Nations' positions is a caricature which pays insignificant attention to the important economic relationships that have developed between oil sands companies and some First Nations. These relationships mean that First Nations are both critics and supporters of exploiting this resources.

Call in the lawyers; First Nations in both B.C. and Alberta file legal challenges over Site C dam

Author(s): Stodalka, W.

Year: 2014

Another First Nation Chief, McLeod Lake Indian Band Chief Derek Orr, noted that the two earlier Peace River dams influenced his group's decision to oppose Site C. "The W.A.C. Bennett Dam and Peace Canyon Dam were constructed without consultation with our First Nations," he said. "Our fish have been poisoned; our caribou have almost been completely extirpated (driven to localized extinction); we're rapidly running out of places to meaningfully exercise our rights. We do not consent to Site C." "When they built the Bennett Dam, no one thought about how the Delta might be affected," he said. "No one thought about how First Nations might be affected. Once the dam was built, it was too late to address our concerns. We are worried that history is repeating with Site C." "There is too much at stake in the Delta to ignore potential effects of yet another dam on the Peace River," added Mikisew Cree First Nation Chief Steve Courtoreille. "Governments needed to take a cautious approach and ensure they understood effects to the Delta and on the Mikisew before they approved Site C. Unfortunately, they chose not to do so."

First Nations from across North America take part in fifth and final Healing Walk in Fort McMurray

Year: 2014

FORT MCMURRAY, AB, June 28, 2014 /CNW/ - First Nations from across North America took part today in the fifth and final Healing Walk in Fort McMurray, Alberta, an annual event that organizers say has achieved its ultimate purpose of building unity and alliances among First Nations impacted by tar sands development in Canada and the United States. Fort McMurray, the centre of tar sands development, was once traditional hunting, fishing and gathering grounds. The walk offered healing prayers to the land and to build strength and unity among people impacted by tar sands development. "First Nations communities were once scared to share their stories about tar sands impacts, but the Healing Walk has been a safe place to share knowledge so that today First Nations are stronger than ever to fight tar sands development across North America," said Eriel Deranger, of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.

Heavy metal dynamics in the Athabasca River: Sediment concentrations prior to major Alberta oil sands development

Author(s): Allan, R. J., & Jackson T.

Year: 1977

Exploitation of the bituminous sands may elevate heavy metal levels in the sediments of drainage systems of the AOSERP area via waterborne or airborne emissions. One hundred and six dredged sediments and twenty-four sediment cores were collected from the Athabasca River system from just above Fort McMurray to the confluence of Riviere des Rochers with the Slave River. A preliminary sample suite representing all of the drainage units and textural variations was selected for detailed analyses by several total and partial extraction techniques. The objective was to document the natural heavy metal geochemistry of the sediment and to assess cultural influences if any on concentrations. These preliminary analyses indicate that absolute concentrations are low when compared to data for polluted sediments or even for sediments from different natural geological terrains elsewhere. Concentration variations appear to be functions of natural sedimentological, mineralogical and geochemical controls. Highest heavy metal concentrations occurred in the finest grained sediments from Lake Athabasca. Vanadium, the heavy metal most commonly associated with the oil sands, appeared to be present in the drainage sediments in a stable organic compound, which was unextractable by hydrochloric acid, sodium hydroxide, or benzene/mcthanol. Its occurrence in the drainage sediment may be in the same general form as in the original bituminous oil sands. If so, it appears to be unaffected by chemical or bacterial degradation in the bottom sediment. Recommendations for further work, which will require additional funding, are in decreasing order of priority: x-ray diffraction of selected sediments; organic extraction and fractionation of selected sediments; analyses of selected sediment cores; determination of sedimentation rates for selected cores; completion of analyses of the dredged sample suite; analyses of lake sediments from lakes off the mainstream system; detailed grid sediment sampling immediately downstream from extraction plant effluents; collection of a suspended sediment sample suite; and analyses of oil slicks (air-water interface).

Oil sands pollutants in traditional foods

Author(s): Edwards, J.

Year: 2014

People who worked in the oil sands, as well as "people who consumed traditional foods more frequently and those who consumed locally caught foods were more likely to have cancer," said [McLachlan] in an interview. "Industry is expediting that transition [to store-bought foods] in Fort Chipewyan because people are con- cerned about the quality of the tradi- tional foods in a way that they wouldn't be in other parts of northern Canada," said McLachlan. The products available in local stores are "convenience foods," said McLachlan. "The healthy foods that we like to promote in big cities like fresh fruits and vegetables just aren't available."

Edwards, J. (2014).  Oil sands pollutants in traditional foods. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 186(12), 1 page. Abstract

Risking rupture: Integral accidents and in/security in Canada's bitumen sands

Author(s): Greaves, W.

Year: 2013

The expansion of unconventional hydrocarbon development in Western Canada is one of the most contentious issues in contemporary Canadian politics. Although widely studied, little attention has been paid to the framing of Alberta's bitumen sands within distinct and incompatible discourses of energy and environmental security. This essay examines these discourses using the tools of securitization analysis, asking the basic questions of what each presents as needing to be secured, from what, and by what means. Presented with two sets of socially constructed in/ security claims related to the bitumen sands and proposed pipeline expansion, the author suggests the social theory of Paul Virilio provides a useful intervention into securitization analysis that allows the material implications of these discourses to be clarified and assessed. Drawing upon Virilio's critical account of technological progress and his theory of accidents, this essay proposes that conventional accounts of "energy security" in the bitumen sands cannot result in meaningful conditions of security because they remain premised upon continued and expanded hydrocarbon consumption in an era of anthropogenic climate change.