Wednesday April 02, 2014

Development of oilsands for "Fort Chip" First Nation is a ticket to a prosperous and sovereign future

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Fort-Chip-Feature

An oily sheen is seen on the Athabasca River near Fort Chipewyan, Alta., in this July 6, 2013 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO.

Today we're going to Fort Chipewyan, Alberta: a community that is essentially entirely indigenous is trying to balance a desire to preserve environment and culture with a desire to take advantage of jobs and development. Sometimes it's not business it is personal.

"We have to consider stepping stones to becoming sovereign. And it's not as easy as yes and no and good and bad. We have to try and make the best out of situations that are not always ideal."

Eriel Deranger, spokesperson for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation

The development and future of the oilsands has been called one of the most complex and sensitive issues of our times.

And for some First Nations, the relationship to the oil industry is equally complex and sensitive. Over the last thirty years, Alberta's Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation has seen big oil companies move in, make money, and expand.

But leaders in the tiny community of Fort Chipewyan aren't sitting on the sidelines or protesting development. Instead they are eyeing the oilsands as a means to economic sustainability and, ultimately, sovereignty.

The CBC's Angela Sterritt visited the community of Fort Chipewyan.

This segment was produced by the CBC's Angela Sterritt.