Blood Tribe Members Call for Moratorium on Hydro Fracking
A growing number of Blood Tribe Members in southern Alberta are calling for a moratorium on the controversial process known as hydro fracking.
In late 2010, Kainaiwa Resources Inc. (KRI), a company solely owned by the Blood Tribe, quietly signed off on a deal with the Calgary-based junior mining company Bowood Energy and the U.S. company Murphy Oil.
"The deal netted the Blood Tribe at least $50 Million and potentially more revenue in the future," says Protect Blood Land, a new grassroots effort led by concerned tribal members, including the Blood/Sámi student and activist, Maija Tailfeathers.
However, Protect Blood Land says that no one from the reserve was consulted before the deal was finalized. "KRI and the Blood Tribe Chief and Council neglected to maintain any degree of transparency during and after the negotiations--ultimately, leaving a large population of tribe members completely unaware of the situation until after the deal was made," says Protect Blood Land.
In addition to the $50 Million, the deal with Bowood Energy and Murphy Oil will bring some much-needed jobs to the reserve; however, Protect Blood Land says that's not good enough.
"Blood Tribe members are encouraged to look at this from a critical perspective. What does this mean for our land and people? It is a five-year lease. What happens in five years time? This deal offers short-term employment for a limited population. What happens to those jobs when the oil companies move on to their next venture? What happens to the place that we, the Niitsitapi, have called home for thousands of years? We are left with a landscape pocked-marked by wells which have sucked the land dry and left our water undrinkable. Furthermore, we are left with life-long health issues such as neurological disorders, cancer, asthma, and the list goes on. This, all in the name of 'economic development'. "
One of four Members of the Blackfoot Confederacy, the Bloods--who are also known as the Kaianai--live on the single largest reserve in Canada. About 5,000 people live on the reserve, half of the Blood's overall population
In exchange for the $50 million payout, Bowood Energy and Murphy Oil gained drilling rights to almost half of the Blood's reserve for a total of five years; during which time, the two companies will be allowed to use hydro fracking at 16 or more drill sites.
Hydro fracking (also known as hydraulic fracturing or just simply "fracking") is a controversial extraction process in which tonnes of sand, millions of litres of water and hundreds of toxic chemicals are "injected" at high pressure into underground rock formations that hold deposits of oil and gas. The process shatters the rock like a broken windshield, creating pathways for the deposits to be drawn out by the companies.
In most cases, up to 70% of the chemicals used in fracking are non-recoverable, which means they stay underground, where they may travel freely with the oil and gas into local water sources. In New Mexico, for instance, fracking chemicals leached into the water table at 800 different sites. According to recent reports, fracking can also mobilize uranium and other radioactive materials that may be present in the rock.
This is the biggest concern for members of the Blood: "The toxic nature of the drilling and its capacity to do irreversible damage to the land and water on the Blood Reserve and surrounding areas. Furthermore, fracking poses a major threat to human health, wildlife and livestock," says Protect Blood Land.
For these reasons, Protect Blood Land has set up a petition for anyone living on the reserve and the surrounding Oldman Watershed that wishes to object to the agreements and urge a moratorium on all planned oil and gas exploration until a referendum has taken place on the reserve. The petition further demands the right to free expression "without concern of prosecution or threats by Blood Tribe Chief and Council or their agents" as well the end to any attempts at coercion "in the form of threatening the employment of anyone who works under Blood Tribe and speaks against the agreements."
Petition for Blood Tribe members and Oldman Watershed residents:
A second petition has also been set up for anyone else that wishes to stand in solidarity with all Blood members opposed to Fracking on their land.
Petition for Individuals who are NOT tribe members nor living in the region:
For more information, please visit http://protectbloodland.ca
John Schertow is an Indigenous rights advocate and author of the online journal Intercontinental Cry.
Tags: Fracking , Indigenous People , Canada , Oil And Gas , Hydraulic Fracturing ,
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