Author(s): Jennifer Huseman and Damien Short
Abstract: In this paper we discuss the impact of the tar sands development in northern Alberta on the indigenous communities of the Treaty 8 region.[i] While the project has brought income to some, and wealth to the few, its impact on the environment and on the lives of many indigenous groups is profoundly concerning. Their ability to hunt, trap and fish has been severely curtailed and, where it is possible, people are often too fearful of toxins to drink water and eat fish from waterways polluted by the ‘externalities’ of tar sands production. The situation has led some indigenous spokespersons to talk in terms of a slow industrial genocide being perpetrated against them. We begin the paper with a discussion of the treaty negotiations which paved the way for tar sands development before moving on to discuss the impacts of modern day tar sands extraction and the applicability of the genocide concept.
Keywords: Indigenous peoples, tar sands, genocide, extreme energy.
A version of this paper was published in the International Journal of Human Rights in 2012 as ‘A slow industrial genocide’: tar sands and the indigenous peoples of northern Alberta, Jennifer Huseman, Damien Short, The International Journal of Human Rights 01/2012; 16:216-237. DOI: 10.1080/13642987.2011.649593
[i] The treaty area most affected by tar sands projects.
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