(Treaty 6 Territory, Saskatoon, SK) – An oil pipeline leak that happened last week near Fox Creek, Alberta has prompted the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) to call for tougher environmental laws that take into consideration traditional First Nation values and knowledge of the land and water.

“Our concerns for the environment continue to grow as we learn of another oil spill and drought conditions in a national park designated as a United Nations heritage site,” said FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron. “These are our traditional lands that are under duress. Government officials will never understand the relationship Indigenous people have with the land. First Nations people are the protectors and stewards of the land. We know what’s needed to preserve our lands and water.”

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Last week’s pipeline leak is still under investigation. The extent of the environmental damage is still not known. Meanwhile, the Mikisew Cree Nation near Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, has concerns the Wood Buffalo National Park is on the verge of environmental disaster due to drought in the region.

“First Nations need to be included in any new environmental laws,” said Chief Cameron. “The Federal Government has a Duty to consult and accommodate on all matter that impact First Nations and this includes environmental protection. You can’t discuss the environment without including the inherent and treaty rights of the Indigenous people of this land.”

“While First Nations in the province understand the importance of economic development this must be balanced with strong environmental protections” said Vice Chief Edward (Dutch) Lerat. “This includes First Nations involvement in the development of legislation and regulations and a process for First Nations monitors”

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