Neil Young’s week-long “Honor the Treaties” tour of Canada will benefit and support First Nations’ legal battle against a tar sands project. Proceeds from the shows in Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary will be donated to the legal defense fund of the northern Alberta-based Athabasca tribal government challenging new tar sands projects.
Speaking during his sold-out show at Massey Hall in Toronto, the Grammy Award-winning Canadian singer said:
We are killing these people. The blood of these people are on modern Canada’s hands…We went to the homes of First Nations people and I met them. While I was there, I drove around the tar sands in my electric car and experienced this unbelievable smell and toxicity. My throat and eyes were burning, and this was about 25 miles away from the actual site at Fort (McMurray).
The 1,200-member Athabasca tribe has asked Canada’s federal court to review Ottawa’s decision to allow the expansion, which would encroach on Athabasca land.
“It’s a David and Goliath story,” Eriel Deranger, communications coordinator for the Athabasca First Nation, told Al Jazeera. The expansion could also violate federal laws covering fisheries and species at risk, Deranger said.
Deranger, an Athabasca tribe member, said the Jackpine Mine expansion would contribute to cumulative impacts that would break the treaty. She added that the government knew that when it was approved…
David Schindler, professor emeritus at the University of Alberta, testified at the Jackpine Mine hearings. He said the area had already seen severe environmental impacts by previous mines in the area.
“They’re talking about destroying 20 kilometers of the Athabasca River – that’s a fairly big body of water,” Schindler told Al Jazeera. “There are about 10,000 or more fish that go up and down that river, and it’s being treated as if it was a sewer.”
Deranger said the project would impact species like wood bison, caribou and other at-risk species as well as fisheries and waterways – with no proven method of reclamation afterward.