Brent Wittmeier, edmontonjournal.com: Saturday, August 14, 2010
http://www.globaltvedmonton.com/money/H ... story.html
EDMONTON — The stretch of Highway 63 between Fort McMurray and Fort MacKay is lined with gaping chasms, lifeless tailings ponds, smokestacks, and piles of sulphur.
Those features — telltale signs of open-pit oilsands mining — are partly why 100 protesters held a 13 kilometre “healing walk” north of Fort McMurray on Saturday.
“Forty years ago, our people hunted, trapped, fished, and picked berries here,” said George Poitras, a former chief of the Mikisew Cree Nation.
“It’s a land that has been totally decimated.”
The walk was the idea of the Keepers of the Athabasca, a network of local First Nations, Métis and settler communities along the Athabasca River. The group says the event is not a protest against oilsands development, but a journey for the spiritual healing of the land and sacred waters. Nevertheless, they’re hoping to persuade the Alberta government to halt expansion of oilsands production until environmental assessments can be completed.
“Once all the resource has been exploited and everyone leaves, we’ll still be here,” said Poitras, who spoke over the phone while approaching the Syncrude site. “We want to ensure we have a healthy environment left.”