Athabasca River contamination affecting traditional hunting, fishing: report

New rules needed to restrict oilsands-related water withdrawals
Andrea Sands
Date published: 
Fri, 2010-12-10

EDMONTON — Falling water levels and contaminants in the Athabasca River are cutting First Nations people off from traditional hunting, fishing and trapping lands and taking away their treaty rights, says a report released Thursday.

The report's main author said this is the first time the river's declining flow and water quality have been studied in the context of aboriginal treaty rights.

"If people cannot move around the territories by boat and by water, then they cannot practise their traditions, their culture, their rights," Craig Candler told a press conference Thursday.

Worries about contaminated fish and meat from animals such as moose "are having direct effects on how people are able to use the land and are able to practise their rights," Candler said.

The Treaty 8 agreement guaranteeing hunting, fishing and trapping rights to sustain the First Nations' traditional livelihood was signed in 1899.

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