Saskatchewan First Nations leaders are speaking out after a train derailment spilled millions of litres of oil last week near Lanigan, 126 km southeast of Saskatoon.
The chief of Kawacatoose First Nation in southern Saskatchewan released a statement saying he’s concerned about how the oil spill will affect his traditional land near spill site.
“Its been a week and neither the federal government nor CP Rail have reached out to the Kawacatoose First Nation despite the fact that some of our Treaty sustenance hunters have always hunted in this area,” says Tom Dustyhorn.
“I’m not only concerned about the environment and the oil spill’s impacts to wildlife and plants, I’m more concerned about the underground water and how that may impact our First Nation”.
The Kawacatoose First Nation is located in the Treaty 4 Territory in southern Saskatchewan near the town of Raymore, 80 km from the spill site.
On Dec. 9, a train carrying crude spilled an estimated 1.5 million litres of oil.
The derailed train burst into flames sending thick black smoke skyward.
The provincial government says CP Rail is responsible for all costs associated with the spill, including emergency response and remediation.
The is the second major spill in Saskatchewan in the past three years.
In 2016, Husky Energy had a major pipeline spill into the North Saskatchewan River. The CP Rail spill involves more than four times the amount of what was spilled by Husky.
The spill last week caused a fire that lasted 24 hours and closed down highway 16 because of the smoke.
CP said in a news release that it did not believe local waterways had been affected, but after an investigation that status can change.
A team from the Transportation Safety Board has wrapped up its on site investigation. The railway said it was also investigating.
CP says the area will be cleaned up and restored.
Bobby Cameron, chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations supports Kawacatoose and wants to see all First Nation communities properly and thoroughly consulted on the environmental impact and clean-up efforts like this spill.
“A number of our people continue to live off these lands and practice their Treaty Rights in that area,” Cameron said. “Harvesters use the medicines that grow from the earth that has been contaminated and hunters feed their entire communities with the wildlife that are feeding in that affected area.
“Our people know these lands and have survived for many generations living off the earth. Their knowledge should be utilized in all stages of this clean-up effort.”