Neil Young and the “Honor the Treaties” tour

by Sierra.Hanham on February 26, 2014 - 4:28pm

Neil Young and his “Honor the Treaties” tour have caused much controversy and major disputes with its involvement to stop the Athabasca Oil Sands from extracting oil from the first nation reserves. Methods to extract the tar sands from the native reserves are a huge threat to problems occurring such as: fish in the water streams, greenhouse gases, and the violation of treaties. Neil Young’s movement is beneficial because it is making people aware of the major destructions that the government is making in order to profit.

To begin, studies show that toxic by-products from the tar sands extraction industry are poisoning the Athabasca River. This is putting downstream native communities and the fish they eat from the river in danger. The risks that these first nations must take are fatal. Cancer rates have skyrocketed since the extractions started and the fish eventually became inedible. The federal government ignored the fact that scientific research proved that the pollution would affect the fish, in order to make more money. Not only are the first nations getting poisoned by the pollution that is being created, but other wildlife as well. Just in 2008, a flock of migrating ducks stopped in the Athabasca River, and ended up dying from drinking and resting in the poisoned water. The federal government approved the expansion of Shell’s Jackpine mine, expanding its 7500 hectare Jackpine to 1300 hectares. It is obvious why the Natives want to fight back; they are literally getting sick, up to the point of death, and ruining their clean environment while the government is openly raking in the cash.  The “Honor the Treaties” tour is making sure that fatal risks like these are being acknowledged by the people of our society who can help stop this. Above all, humans and animals are being immensely affected; however, the air pollution is beginning to increase as well.

Secondly, the construction of the pipeline and the methods used to extract oil are producing three times the amount of greenhouse gases through the processes of conventional oil and further mining projects. Also, all of the heavy machinery being used is definitely contributing to the factor of pollution throughout this project. After all of the environmental damage this oil extraction is doing, it will take years and years for the poisoned of land to completely thrive once again, and even longer for all the animals to come back. According to a study by Dr. David Schindler, a biologist from the University of Alberta, there isn’t enough water to process the Athabasca River and have enough clean water, in Northern Alberta. For the most part, the oil sands may not be as big of a deal in the increase of greenhouse gasses area but is a major problem when it comes to the lack of water efficiency. Equally important, the affect it has on the human rights of the first nations is immense because it looks like the federal government is choosing to ignore their rights.

Finally, the federal government has violated the 1968 Fort Laramie treaty in order to exploit the natives land for oil. “Honor the Treaties” is called this because the human right factor of this huge movement is very important. The government needs to honor the treaties it has made in order to honor the first nation’s rights as well. During the tour, Neil Young once said:  “Canada is trading integrity for money”. The government is starting to ignore its own rights and make a foul of it by breaking theses sacred treaties. It is not a matter of money anymore; it is a matter of keeping Canada’s integrity.

To conclude, I think that Neil Young and the “Honor the Treaties” tour is a great idea. It is a very important way of raising awareness about the consequences of the oil extractions happening on the native reserves. Human rights and the environment are two things that need to be cherished and sustained, not ignored and deprived.