Earlier this month, a group of Canadian and U.S. scientists published a letter calling for significant and mandatory changes to the Oil Sands Industry as it operates today. There are names of 100 authors and signatories on the document, and the list includes Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada, Members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, recipients of the Order of Canada, and a Nobel prize winner, not to mention all being credible and published academics. When coupled with the fact that over a year of meticulous research and editing went into the letter, it can be safely assumed that these authors know what they’re talking about, and that their demands are grounded in sound research.
“No new oil sands or related infrastructure projects should proceed unless consistent with an implemented plan to rapidly reduce carbon pollution, safeguard biodiversity, protect human health, and respect treaty rights.”
This is the call issued in the letter, and it is a call that the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation stands behind firmly. “Finding a way to reconcile the negative and positive impacts is becoming increasingly difficult”, Eriel Tchekwie Deranger writes in a June 23, 2015 column reflecting on the moratorium. The tension present between an industry and a community that both benefits from and is harmed by it continues to grow, and a new relationship between the two must be formed if they are to have any hope of coexisting.
Indeed, on a larger scale, the same is true for Canada’s oil-dependent society’s relationship with industry. Demand has driven industry operation to and beyond the social and ecological limits of the industry’s context within Alberta’s natural environment and among its communities.
By supporting this moratorium, ACFN is acknowledging the need for a new relationship between community, society, and industry, because the status quo simply can’t go on any longer.
You can find the scientists’ letter below – give it a read!
Chris Klassen is the Communications Coordinator for the One River, Many Relations documentary project and contributes content to One River News as a part of that work. He studied International Development and Communications at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, MB and is happy to be contributing to the work of building future relationships between land, people, and industry.