Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and the Tar Sands

Date of Alert: 
Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and the Tar Sands

Updates and info on ACFN's case against Shell Oil

10 Jul 2012 1 Comment

For Immediate Release: First Nation meet with Alberta government proposing First Nation driven co-management and conservation in Northern Alberta

First Nation meet with Alberta government proposing First Nation driven co-management and conservation in Northern Alberta


JULY 10TH, 2012 EDMONTON, AB – Last week the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) met with Alberta Minister of Environment McQueen and Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Campbell to discuss a new First Nation driven report entitled Níh boghodi: We are the stewards of our land developed by ACFN with support from the Firelight Group. It outlines a co-management stewardship plan for woodland caribou, barren-ground caribou and wood bison in Alberta based on traditional Dene ecological knowledge, sound conservation science and habitat protection and ACFN’s unique treaty and traditional rights. Massive industrial development and poor management practices are identified in the report as key factors in the decline of species in the region.

“Currently government and industry are not adequately addressing the annihilation of species and habitat necessary for survival in our traditional lands,” stated Chief Allan Adam of ACFN.  “Our stewardship plan addresses this problem and provides a tool for sustaining our way of life with community-based implementation and monitoring goals in partnership with science-based monitoring and management programs. We hope our discussions with the provincial government opened the doors to build a partnership and implement the necessary co-management and stewardship in the region.”

ACFN has held discussions with past provincial leadership regarding co-management of ACFN traditional lands with little progress.  Although Alberta’s new leadership gave no clear indication about moving forward with co-management, ACFN is optimistic the government will follow through with the “open door” promise to continue exploring the implementation of this new stewardship plan and ensuring responsible management and sustainable development of Treaty lands in Northern Alberta.

Níh boghodi, based on pro-active protection and restoration of habitat, establishes a Protection Zone north of the Firebag River with no new permits or development. The Stewardship zone, south of the Firebag River, is designed to provide a transitional area between the Protection zone and other areas with higher industrial development.  Much of the ACFN’s lands are already impacted or currently under threat from existing and proposed tar sands development. The ACFN hopes that a co-management partnership with the provincial government will protect these lands and cultural keystone species from further erosion and annihilation.

Pat Marcel, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Elder and co-author of Níh boghodi stated, “Dené sųłiné people of ACFN have unique rights to the lands identified for protection and stewardship in our report. Under the 1932 Game Act, the Crown set aside land from the 27th baseline north to the NWT, east to Saskatchewan, and west to Wood Buffalo Nation Park, for the exclusive use of the Chipewyan people.” He went on to say, “We have relied on our traditional lands and all they provide since time immemorial. Thunzea (woodland caribou), et’thén (barren ground caribou) and dechen yághe ejere (wood bison) have a central role our culture. Immediate action is necessary and it’s time for the governments to work with our people to ensure the protection of our treaty rights and the caribou and bison in our region.”

A copy of the full report is available online at and


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