Neil Young Honour the Treaties Tour Kicks off in Toronto

B. McPherson

Neil Young, Canadian songwriter and performer, has kicked off a four part concert tour in aid of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in their fight to defend their treaty rights. The tour, Honour the Treaties, held its first concert to a sold out crowd in Toronto. Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary will follow.

The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation is front and centre in the ever expanding Alberta Oil Sands mining operation. Shell Oil, a foreign owned corporation, has been granted permission by the federal government to expand its mining operations in the Jackpine area in spite of an environmental report stating that it will cause irreversible harm to the environment.

The damage already done to the delicate northern environment is already extensive. The strip mine that uncovers the tarry sands can easily be spotted from space. While ads by various oil companies mining the sands feature actors touting the reclamation successes, most of the area is a wasteland of toxic ponds and stripped landscape.

The words of a former oil sands worker sum up how many feel about the despoliation of northern Alberta.

"Look at industry and what all the companies have done so far, which is only about 10 per cent of what they are going to do," he said. "Some call it the smell of money, but I call it the smell of death. This is what's killing the environment, but it's also killing us as human beings, and Neil Young noticed that right away." CBC News

The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation has treaty rights that enshrine their right to constitutionally enshrined right to be consulted and accommodated when new policies threaten their livelihood on the land or access to cultural grounds.” The Star. Yet, as the tar sands mining has moved upstream on the Athabasca River hunting grounds have been destroyed, fish have been rendered inedible and cancer rates have skyrocketed.

Before the sold out crowd in Massey Hall, Young and Athabasca Chief Allan Adam discussed the situation. The discussion was moderated by David Suzuki.

For a video of Neil Young’s statement regarding the Alberta Oil Sands, check out The Star.

Three more concerts are planned, two with superstar Diana Krall contributing: Winnipeg January 16, Regina January 17, Calgary January 19.

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