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Neil Young kicked off his Honour the Treaties tour this Sunday in Toronto. Young and Canadian jazz singer Diana Krall will be performing at fundraising concerts in Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary later this month in support of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) and their fight against Shell Canada's Jackpine mine, approved by regulators last month, a proposed Pierre River Mine and a provincial land use plan they say runs rampant over their treaty rights and traditional land uses.
As reported by CBC, Neil Young blasted the Canadian government, saying it's "completely out of control" when it come to the environment and oil sands expansion."
Young said he toured one of 50 oil sands sites with his son and was shocked at "the ugliest thing I've ever seen. It's the greediest, most destructive and most disrespectful demonstration of something that has run amok." He said he supports First Nations in their fight against expanding oil sands projects in Alberta because of their destructive impact on the environment. "I see a government completely out of control, and money is number one. Integrity isn't even on the map," he said.
At the concert Young again stated that, "Canada is trading integrity for money. That's what happening under the current leadership of Canada, which is a very poor imitation of the George Bush administration.'' He said the thirst for resource extraction is killing aboriginals and "the blood of these people will be on modern Canada's hands.'' The stage was designed with three empty seats for Aglukkaq, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt.
The Toronto Star highlights that, the "Honour the Treaties" tour name refers to the Canadian First Nations communities' constitutionally enshrined right to be consulted and accommodated when new policies threaten their livelihood on the land or access to cultural grounds.
Chief Allan Adam, says his community of Fort Chipewyan has, since the oil sands industry moved in upstream, seen wildlife vanish, fish rendered inedible and cancer rates skyrocket to 30 per cent above the general population. Further, Chief Allan Adam raised concerns about future generations and the lack of environmental protection in Alberta's oil sands region. "In the last 40 years, the development that occurred on the tar sands region has gone out of proportion," Adam said. "It is at a rate right now where your government fails to recognize the fact that we have a problem."
Allan Adams also said the community of Fort Chipewyan has been suffering from rapid rates rates of cancer and other such as lupus and asthma. He hopes to raise money for an independent community health study to determine the cause. "Sure, we need development to occur to continue with the economic sustainability here in our country, but the fact remains that when are we going to say, 'Let's get this under control?'" Adams also criticized the federal government for ignoring scientific research regarding natural resources development stating, "How can [projects] be safe when you have the federal government excluding all of the scientists and the credible reports?"
Young stated in a press conference that, he invited government representatives to attend the news conference and provide their side of the story, but the invitations were declined. In response Jason MacDonald, a spokesman for Harper, released a bogus statement claiming, "projects are approved only when they are deemed safe for Canadians and (the) environment... Our government recognizes the importance of developing resources responsibly and sustainably and we will continue to ensure that Canada's environmental laws and regulations are rigorous. We will ensure that companies abide by conditions set by independent, scientific and expert panels."
To listen to a great interview with Neil Young regarding the environmental disaster of the Alberta Tar Sands go here.
Last October, Maude Barlow spoke in support of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation challenge against Shell's Jackpine tar sands project expansion in Alberta, she stated, "The ACFN is arguing that the increase in oil production (big enough to supply both the proposed Gateway pipeline and the existing Kinder Morgan pipeline) would destroy water, air and wilderness in a vast area of their territory. I brought words of solidarity to this struggle and said this Shell expansion would not only violate the treaty rights of First Nations, but their rights under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and their right to water under the new UN recognition of this right."
And she has also highlighted that First Nations leadership, Treaties, and Aboriginal rights may be the last bulwark in stopping the Harper agenda of environmentally devastating resource extraction projects and pipelines that are to be on or run through First Nations territories.
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