The Chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations is speaking out today on the Husky Energy oil spill and calling for full First Nation participation.
"We are talking about medicinal herbs that are grown along the riverbanks, the berries that are grown along the riverbanks; it's our way of life off the land, it's survival off the land," said FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron.
An oil spill in the North Saskatchewan River has now reached Prince Albert. It began Thursday after a Husky Oil pipeline near Maidstone ruptured, spilling more than 200,000 litres of heavy oil into the waterway.
- Oil-drenched birds treated near site of Husky pipeline leak in Saskatchewan
'This could go on for years and years and years.' - FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron
Husky Energy set up a command centre and has provided the Sweetgrass First Nation with updates. The Battleford and Prince Albert Tribal Councils are working hard to make sure their communities are ready.
But the FSIN would like to see more.
"We need further representation in the command centre," said FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron.
"We need assurances that First Nation's interests in respect to our inherent and treaty rights to hunting, trapping, fishing and gathering will be taken into account during the decision making process. As stewards of the land it is our role to protect the environment including the waterways."
First Nations along the North Saskatchewan River will monitor the environmental impact the spill is causing to their cultural and traditional lifestyle, according to the FSIN.
"Industry has tried to minimize these types of impacts. So what is the true impact of this oil spill? We do not know. Are the booms going to contain all the oil? Absolutely not, so this could go on for years and years and years," said Cameron.
A previous version of this story incorrectly placed Husky Energy's command centre at the Sweetgrass First Nation. The story has now been fixed.Jul 25, 2016 3:53 PM CT