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First Nation Offered Tainted Bison Meat

Lead at levels above what is safe for human consumption

by Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation

Press Release for Immediate release – (Fort Chipewyan: March 16, 2010)

First Nations have been given and offered tainted bison meat from a nearby Industry developer. The communities of Fort McKay and Fort Chipewyan were given and offered Free Bison Meat, only to have the bison meat recalled for lead levels above what is considered safe for human consumption. They claim that the poisonous meat came from one animal and The Fort McKay First Nation, Health Canada, Alberta Health and Alberta Agricultural are suggesting that the rest of the meat is safe. Yet as a precautionary measure, Dr. Brent Friesen, Medical Officer of Health, Alberta Health Services, Fort McMurray, and Dr. Simon Sihota, Regional Environmental Public Health Manager, Health Protection Directorate, First Nation and Inuit Health Branch, Health Canada, Edmonton, advise that any ground meat from the Dec 2009 harvest should be collected and sent for analysis for lead content.

The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation is now asking how this could happen. Why is our First Nation offered free bison meat that turns out to be unsafe for consumption? “Generating contaminated meat and offering it to the First Nations people is a cruel act of total disrespect to the dignity of the people of Fort Chipewyan” Chief Adam said. This contamination casts a dark cloud upon the claims that the oil sands companies are able to safely reclaim lands destroyed by oil sands mining. This contamination comes after the discovery of heightened rare cancer rates in a 2009 report released by the Alberta Cancer Board and a report released by Dr. Schindler2009 showing Athabasca River contamination is improperly measured.

On a related note, there is a free roaming herd of Bison near the ACFN Reserve lands which our members use for consumption purposes. Yet Alberta chooses not to manage this threatened bison herd in a manner to protect it from development. “The buffalo are not protected and industrial developers are running them off the lands scaring them with helicopters and planes” Chief Adam said. Drilling and Exploration continues where these herds of bison roam and live.

The ACFN members are afraid to hunt traditional foods and consume waterfowl birds for fear they may be contaminated by Development. We fear that ducks and geese which have landed on a tailing pond continue to travel north and are consumed by our members. What does ACFNs’ future hold with regards to health and wellness of our Membership? What does the future hold for ACFN’s continued existence in the face of Alberta’s plans for Development? There is great uncertainty with the safety of the Traditional foods we consume.

For Further Information:
Chief Allan Adam, ACFN, 780-697-3730.

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