Aug. 20, 2008 - Issue #670: Three Chords and the Truth
Rear Vue Mirror - Fort Chipewyan, Aug. 17
And you thought Blinky from the Simpsons was creepy. A two-mouthed fish
caught in Lake Athabasca during the Keepers of the Water III conference,
held Aug 15 - 17 in the remote northern hamlet of Fort Chipewyan, provided
the 250 conference delegates with a tangible illustration of the
community’s concerns about the impact of the rampant tar sands
development 280 kilometres upstream from the community. Residents of Fort
Chipewyan have for years raised concerns about the impacts of the tar sands
on the environment and health of members of the community, which has seen
an increase in rare cancers.
The conference echoed the call of many environmental groups, labour and
other organizations in the province calling for a moratorium on new tar
“Our message is plain and clear” Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam told the delegates. “We have to slow down industry to let us catch up.”
The conference concluded with a joint declaration issued by Chiefs from the
three Prairie provinces and the Northwest Territories:
We, elected leaders gathering in Fort Chipewyan, from August 15th to 17th,
2008 as Keepers of the Water, together with our peoples residing throughout
the Peace, the Athabasca, the Slave and the Mackenzie basins.
As leaders, we are unified by our shared histories and our interconnections
with each other, with the water, and our spiritual relationship to the
As leaders, we support our Elders and youth, and we recognize our
responsibilities for future generations.
We join the Elders and the youth in affirming that water is a sacred trust
and a fundamental human right, and agree to act to support and to implement
their resolutions in order to advance the Keepers of the Water
We believe that the pace of development within our territories is
unsustainable, and are deeply concerned that governments are permitting
development to proceed without our consent.
As leaders, we are committed to taking all steps in our power to protect
our lands, sustain our communities and assert our rights.
We therefore resolve to:
•Initial legal action to assert our rights;
•Build unity between our communities, and to engage with other leaders to further strengthen this unity; and
•Work in solidarity with organizations that support these goals.
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