Air Pollution Addressed in Report to Cheif of First Nations

by jessieparlee on October 7, 2016 - 11:45pm

The article that CBC released was regarding the concern of air quality in Fort McKay. This report outlined 17 new recommendations for improving the air quality in the Fort McKay region. It has also been created in as a step to improve the relationship between first nations and the government.  The problem is that although this report is beneficial to the aboriginal community, which is a community of 600 to be exact, this problem has long been occurring. In fact, concerns about the air quality have been going on since the 1960 and the community is just experiencing some form of action now.

Air quality is a problem because of oil sand production and corporations which pollute harmful chemicals into the air. In fact, the fumes which are produced when the oil sands are in operation are sometimes so bad that people of the community, including hunters, have to stay inside with their windows shut because the stench  Members of the community are scared that the lack of clean air will impact the most vulnerable, children. They are worried that the young will not live long healthy lives. In fact Between January 2010 and December 2014, the Alberta Energy Regulator received 165 complaints from Fort McKay residents, all regarding odors and breathing problems. Although the report released calls for assessment of long-term and cumulative health effects of emissions, first nations are still skeptical that there will be any change. The report also recommended that a better understanding should be held between the industry and the air quality in Fort McKay.

Although a report has been made to try to improve air quality for residents around the oil sands, the chief of first nation says that change will not come over night. He states that trust will have to be developed and mended through the demonstration of action. The purpose of this article was to draw attention towards the treatment first nations are receiving by the Canadian Government and corporations. Another factor is to better understand the environmental injustice which members of these communities are experiencing.

Unfortunately this article did not come as a surprise, for years members of first nation communities have been fighting a long and hard battle to not have their rights diminished over environmental protection. It is also no shock how long members of this community have been waiting and longing for action. Even less of a surprise is that other members of the community, outside of the Fort McKay region, were not even notified of this document with 17 new suggestions to improve the air quality.

Access to clean air is a necessity, and should be available to every individual. People need to be aware that this isn’t just an ‘Aboriginal issue’ it is a Canadian one. The government should fix the relationship between the environment and people, also to members of communities. Reconciliation does not mean ‘forgive and forget’, it is to ‘remember and change’, and that is exactly what the chief of First Nations is encouraging. With the media involved, hopefully more citizens can become educated on the issues of air quality. The way that environmental issues are portrayed in the media ultimately changes society’s values and definitions.



Hey, I found your post really engaging and I feel a lot of the contempt and mistrust as you do regarding the issue of air pollution. First Nations have been overlooked for so long that there has to be a fundamental shift in Government and First Nations relations. It would seem like common sense to stop any activity that has so many negative impacts, but for economic reasons it continues which still does not justify it. You're right about the media playing a vital role in influencing people's values, which can be both a blessing and a curse.

Hey jessieparlee,

You did a great job at summarizing this article and gave me a really clear understanding of the unfairness brought upon these First Nations communities. You stated this issue has been occurring since 1960, and then between 2010 and 2014 the amount of complaints/concerns, makes me wonder if the government even cares at all. I agree with your statement that the government should be working very hard to fix their relationship with the first nations, and begin to make actual strides to ensure that these people have access to clean air (which seems like a bizarre thing for me to even say). I also agree, and hope, that the media can begin to play a positive role in education about what the First Nations people are facing, and finally work towards giving them what they deserve.

Wow. What a moving article! I agree that the situation is really sad. Also, the media does play a huge role in what people see and believe. After all, how easy is it to touch an app or turn on the television and get endless streams of headlines, beliefs, and suggestions to fix problems? We talk about air pollution in China, but rarely do we hear about it happening anywhere else. I hope that people do get involved. Your title really caught my eye. Great post! I did some research, and I found this article on the internet. It talks about this exact issue, and citizen's concerns about it, potential solutions, and legal challenges. It also notes how it may be linked to higher rates of unusual cancers. I think that if people saw air pollution as a serious health risk (which it is), then maybe it would stir people to get things done to help solve it faster.

You've done an excellent job of getting to the heart of the issue in this article. Truly, the problem is not in the relations between the indigenous people and the government, but in the frightening disregard for the welfare of the First Nations. I was unfamiliar with this issue, being a US resident, until I did some further research. I was shocked to learn about the statistics related to the oil sands project.
"Since this toxic waste has been flowing into the river and seeping into the groundwater - rare and virulent cancers have affect many of the Indigenous Community members- and fish and game have been found with physical abnormalities and deformations and tumors in fish." I found this, and much more, information on the Indigenous Environmental Network's website. (

This was such a good post! It is really infuriating to read about what the people of the first nation have been going through for so many years. To think that the government has not done anything about this especially when children are involved is so unbelievable. This post is really really well written and you can really feel the passion you have about this topic. Good work!