The North Saskatchewan River near Prince Albert. Courtesy Mervin Brass of Treaty 4 News
The FSIN is demanding representation at the command centre dealing with the Husky Oil pipeline rupture into the North Saskatchewan River last week.
Chief Bobby Cameron says the Sweetgrass First Nation, the Battlefords Tribal Council and the Prince Albert Grand Council are all working to prepare for the oil slick as it nears their communities.
“Industry has tried to minimize these types of impacts,” he says. “So what’s the true impact of this oil spill? We do not know. Are the booms going to contain all the oil? Absolutely not. So this could go on for years and years and years.”
He says First Nations are being kept apprised of the latest developments, but he is calling on Husky Oil to add First Nation representatives at the command centre.
“To have full inclusion from our First Nations perspective,” he says. “And we also say this to Husky Oil and the other industry sectors out there: If you want true partnership, true dialogue, you have to have our elders advisory council to speak and to help and assist any way we can. Our elders are the true knowledge keepers of this land.”
The equivalent of two rail cars of crude oil spilled into the river last Thursday, but efforts to contain the slick were only partially successful. About half the spill has been recovered.
Prince Albert has now shut down its water intake after the oil reached the city this morning. Drastic water restrictions are being put in place.
A temporary 30-kilometre water pipeline to the South Saskatchewan River is being built should the crisis last more than a few days.