An aerial view of Fort McKay, Alta., Monday, Sept. 19, 2011. An Alberta First Nation is suing the province over development approvals that it says threaten sacred land the government has promised to protect. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

‘Last wilderness’: Alberta chief wants meeting on land approved for oilsands

For McKay First Nation is surrounded on three sides by oilsands development

The chief of a First Nation that has taken Alberta to court to protect its “last wilderness” wants to meet with Premier Jason Kenney to get him to honour the government’s promises.

“We’re confident that the new government is going to do right,” said Grand Chief Mel Grandjamb of the Fort McKay First Nation. “There were commitments to the community.”

The First Nation is surrounded on three sides by oilsands development. Mines come as close as four kilometres to the community.

The band has been negotiating for two decades with the province to protect Moose Lake, west of the townsite.

“We want to be able to smell the good air,” said Grandjamb.

“The water is good enough to drink right from the lake. We send hunting camps out there every year. We supply cabins to all our elders who want to go out there.

“This is our last wilderness.”

In 2018, the band thought it had a deal putting a 10-kilometre buffer around the lake. The deal was never ratified and, in June 2018, Alberta’s energy regulator approved a $440-million, 10,000-barrel-a-day oilsands mine that would come within two kilometres of the shore.

The First Nation is fighting that approval and arguments were heard this week in the Alberta Court of Appeal.

Grandjamb said the band has a five-year-old letter from former premier Jim Prentice endorsing the Moose Lake plan. The chief said it’s time Kenney lived up to the government’s promises — and his own.

“I’m very confident that he will get to the table,” said Grandjamb.

“(That’s) based on his public statements, based on his consultations with the chiefs of Alberta, based on my open discussion with him, based on his analysis that we have to work together to move Alberta forward.”

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta reports just seven new COVID-19 cases

‘Today’s numbers mark an occasion to be celebrated’

Champion horse gets Hall of Fame nod

Willy from the Donalda Cassidy stable to be part of 2020 Canadian Pro Rodeo HOF inductees

Still no confirmed active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer, central zone

There are 15 new confirmed cases were in Alberta, the province said Thursday

Bashaw Farmers market ready for first event on June 12

Pandemic restrictions pushed start back more than a month

Halkirk 2 wind project will get new hearings

Alberta Court of Appeal sides with the appellants

PODCAST: Black Lives Matter in central Alberta

Community organizers come on the show to discuss central Albertan anti-racist movement

‘It’s brewing’: Inmates, guards worry about violence after COVID-19 lockdown

‘Thirteen weeks in a cage the size of your (bathroom) has been pretty devastating’

Feds sign $105-million deal with Bombardier for two new Challenger jets

Department of National Defence announced the deal with Bombardier on Saturday

‘Alarmed:’ Health critic calls for more data on COVID-19 in trucking industry

Public Health Agency of Canada does not collect information on long-haul truckers

Montreal man believes rough arrest caught on video was racially motivated

Montreal man believes rough arrest caught on video was racially motivated

N.B. police shooting of Indigenous woman leads to questions on ‘wellness checks’

N.B. police shooting of Indigenous woman leads to questions on ‘wellness checks’

Minister says reckoning on police violence against Indigenous people needed

Minister says reckoning on police violence against Indigenous people needed

Nunavut to bring in civilian police review after arrest video: minister

Nunavut to bring in civilian police review after arrest video: minister

Most Read