Revised Draft of Lower Athabasca Regional Plan highlights Alberta’s Cavalier attitude towards environmental protection and Indigenous Rights

Edmonton — Alberta’s Government’s Department of Sustainable Resource Develop released their latest draft of the disputed Lower Athabasca Region Plan (LARP) leaving little to be desired by both environmental groups and First Nations alike. Previous draft’s had both groups unanimously agreeing that LARP left loopholes allowing for exemptions to environmental standards and led to a further degradation of constitutionally protected treaty rights.  This recent draft is an insult to both groups as it did little to incorporate previous recommendations largely ignoring growing concerns to protect critical habitat of caribou and vital Indigenous traditional territories and rights.

Many First Nation groups are still trying to unravel how this new draft will impact their rights and territories but John Rigney, who works for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation stated “Sections on Aboriginal input on pages 33 and 63 highlights that the government of Alberta has chosen to be willfully blind to the input of First Nation governments as well as to many court rulings on First Nation rights.  The government seems to be fully prepared to trample the Aboriginal people of the north as it has done for so long in the agricultural regions of the province.  This new draft of the LARP trumpets Alberta's uninformed disregard for Treaty 8 and the Constitution for the world to see, as well as its cavalier attitude toward environmental protection.”

Eriel Deranger, Interim Executive Director of Sierra Club Prairie commented on the recent release of the revised LARP, "Despite major efforts by both local citizens and First Nations to put forward recommendations for a land use plan that will benefit both the environment and the economy, we see the Government of Alberta disregard these requests and ignorantly turn pristine Boreal ecosystems into dollar signs for corporations.” Eriel went on to state,  “In addition to blatant violation of Indigenous and Treaty rights this plan represents, implementing this plan will come with the real costs of more air and water pollution, more cancer and health problems, and more species pushed to the brink of extinction. It is inevitable this plan will serve to further escalate growing opposition tar sands development and expose the illegitimacy of the Alberta Conservatives as effective decision makers for the province."

Environmental and First Nation groups are calling for the regional plan to be reviewed by Indigenous knowledge holders and independent scientists to ensure adequate environmental and Indigenous rights protection. Many First Nation groups are continuing to pressure the government for more meaningful avenues of consultation and participation in co-management to ensure traditional lands and treaty rights are fully protected allowing for the continuation of traditional livelihoods in the region.

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For further information: 

  • Eriel Deranger, Interim Executive Director, Sierra Club Prairie 780-903-6598
  • John Rigney,  Special Projects, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation 780-742-5397
  • Sheila Muxlow, Community Organizer, Sierra Club Prairie 780-660-0312