Opinion Piece Honour The Treaties Tour

by erikaboccardi on March 9, 2014 - 9:52pm

Neil Young’s Honour the Treaties tour is a tour funding the first nations’ legal fight against the Athabasca oil sands project. He wants to stop the oil sands development. His tour has brought a great amount of discussion concerning the pros and cons of the tour. However, the pros of this tour overpowers the cons. I’m for the Honour the Treaties tour because of the negative effects that the oil sand project has on our environment, economy and human rights. His tour promotes proper awareness towards the oil sands’ lack of positive outcomes. 

First of all, the oil sands produce harmful effects on the environment.They want to build the pipeline across the state and they say it will not have a big impact on the environment, however, they’re wrong. First of all, the oil sands production requires an extremely large quantity of water to produce a barrel of oil, in which the water is withdrawn from the Athabasca river. The oil sands use more water per year than the entire city of Calgary. The issue with this is the allocation of water supplies. It creates an imbalance between oil sands production needs and human needs. A 2006 Government of Alberta report stated that there may not be enough water available to meet the needs of the project while maintaing adequate water flows. Not only does this affect overall water shortages, it affects fish populations due to the great amount of water withdrawals. These withdrawals don’t satisfy the environment, as they don’t protect the ecosystem nor the long-term conservation of water in Alberta. To add, Alberta is responsible for one third of Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Of course, this is because of the oil sands project. This is leading to a major concern on climate change because greenhouse gases increase carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere, which increases temperature. Finally, the oil sands are a root cause for the destruction of Alberta’s northern boreal forest. Exploration, open pit mines, developments, forestry and road clearing lead to deforestation and species loss. Water, climate and forest issues demonstrate the unfavourable impacts of the oil sands project on the environment. 

Secondly, economic issues have been raised because of the oil sands project. It has created an impact on the economy. The high level of investment in the oil sands has harmed Alberta’s conventional oil and gas industry. Also, employment in Canada as a result of new oil sands investments is expected to grow from 75,000 jobs in 2010 to 905,000 jobs in 2035. The economic benefits involved with the project are therefore not being properly spread throughout the province. This is because of the extensive need for workers, in which they come from outside the province. The benefits aren’t only going towards Alberta’s economy, but beyond it. In addition, oil sands development had been fuelled mostly by natural gas. Many factor are contributing to the increase of the price of natural gas, however, demand from the oil sands is a major factor. Consequently, this rising price trend will affect the economy’s future in the sense that home heating costs will rise. All in all, these facts exemplify how the oil sands fail to benefit Alberta’s economy.

Thirdly, the oil sands project disrupts human rights. While the Natives are battling to protect their land, water and traditions, the project is going against human rights as they invade their space. They want the right to live self-governed and undisturbed. They also want benefits like heath care, education and financial payments. However, they’re not receiving their desired treatment. Concerning the same issue with the Natives, treaties are being violated. For example, Treaty 8 was a treaty between Queen Victoria and the Natives. It preserves Natives’ rights to practice their traditions and ways of life. The oil sands project goes against this treaty when they prevent the Natives from practicing their traditional activities including fishing and hunting. The Athabasca oil sands project illustrates the wrecking of human rights as it violates treaties by dismantling Natives from their rights. 

As a whole, Neil Young’s Honour the Treaties tour expresses the voices of the Natives who are fighting for their rights and territory. The tour is a good way of raising awareness towards those who lack knowledge when it comes to the negative affects that the oil sands project has on the environment, economy and human rights. Our environment, economy and human rights are 3 valued and important aspects of life that us human beings share, in which they shouldn’t be destructed nor overlooked. 

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