On Monday, July 7, 2014, the University of Manitoba, along with Mikisew Cree First Nation and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, released a historic health study that links health and environmental declines with upstream Oil Sands development and hydro development. According to Google News, over 54 articles have been published on the report. Here is a River Roundup of the press coverage.
Interestingly, while the report was primarily about human health, many headlines focus on animal contamination. Also interesting to note is the near complete absence of criticism of B.C. Hydro. In the study, B.C. Hydro is determined to be a chief culprit regarding the expatriation of muskrat and the transition from country foods to less healthy store bought foods with Northern price tags. In fact every article below focuses exclusively on the Athabasca Oil Sands, while other factors such as uranium mining, agricultural runoff, consumption of polluted fish, residential schools, substance abuse and even the collapse of the fur trade are mentioned in the report. I’m looking forward to shining a light on these and other issues when One River Many Relations: The Film is released in October. Fort Chipewyan is not a black and white case.
Also, there was only one critical story where a scientist flipped open the report, determined it wasn’t scientifically rigorous, and said so. Incidentally, yesterday I interviewed Dr. Kindzierski because I wanted to learn more about his critique of our report, and will be posting a fuller article featuring his thoughts, along with Dr. McLachlan’s response in a separate article, in the coming days.
Deeply frustrated by provincial denials of health concerns, two First Nations commissioned their own study using out-of-province university researchers to examine oil sands pollutants in their foods.
I loved this article because after slaving over the press package and making sure that the media had every little thing their journo hearts could ever want, they used so much of it. There’s a shout out to the film, videos, photos, and a plethora of quotes.
These guys shot a great video of the press conference and included clips from both the two chiefs, Dr. McLachlan, and members of the government opposition. They also turned off the comments, ostensibly after that one guy said that the oil sands companies are making the environment cleaner by removing it from the ground. Stay classy!
Michael Tyas is the managing editor of One River News. He graduated the University of Manitoba with an honours degree in environmental studies, and is a professional videographer and video trainer. He produced the feature length documentary "One River, Many Relations" in Fort Chipewyan. He continues to work with indigenous communities to share their stories around resource extraction, industrial development, and impacts on traditional territories.