October 7, 2013

Fort McMurray, Alberta – The membership of the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association (WBEA) has grown again. Three new members were welcomed to the table at the Association’s General Member’s meeting in September; the Fort McMurray #468 First Nation, the Christina River Dene Nation Council, and the Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation.

WBEA’s membership voted unanimously to accept the new members, bringing the Association’s membership to 37 member organizations who represent three levels of government, environmental non-government organizations, industry operators and Aboriginal groups.

The Fort McMurray #468 First Nation consists of four areas with approximately 475 Band members in total. Reserve #175 is located about 20 km east of Fort McMurray, and the other three areas – Reserves #176, #176A and #176B – are located near Anzac on Gregoire Lake, approximately 50 km southeast of Fort McMurray. Gregoire Lake Reserve #176 is the largest and most populated. Harry Cheecham, representative for the Fort McMurray #468 First Nation, said, “Fort McMurray #468 First Nation appreciates being a member of the WBEA and looks forward to working with this dynamic group. Our Nation recognizes the importance of working together in the best interest of our environment, and welcomes the opportunity to participate in achieving the goals of the WBEA.”

Based in Janvier, the Christina River Dene Nation Council (CRDNC) is an incorporated society that was formed after the Alberta Corporate Registry declared Chard Metis Local #214 inactive in April of 2012. The CRDNC has a current membership of fifty-five members of Aboriginal ancestry, Métis, First Nations, Bill- C31 and Inuit residing in the Hamlet of Chard/Janvier South, adjacent to the Chipewyan Prairie First Nation Indian Reserve. The objective of the CRDNC Society is to ensure that those of Aboriginal ancestry are heard in a collective effort to protect, sustain and enhance cultural, social, economic and environmental connections relative to resource and infrastructure development projects within the Municipality of Wood Buffalo and Lac La Biche County.

Christina River Dene Council President, Almer Herman, said, “We are no different than the community of Conklin, and face the same problems and impacts associated with increased oil development on our traditional lands. The adverse impacts and changes create an urgent need for CRDNC to become effectively involved in the energy-sector, and corporate and regulatory decision making that is imposing impacts on our community and people. We joined WBEA because our community is concerned about air quality, water quality, ecological land, animals, water fowl and logging on our lands. CRDNC will participate to our best knowledge to strengthen our concerns and work with all stakeholders.”

WBEA’s third new member, the Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation, consists of approximately 800 members, and is located 120 km south east of Fort McMurray adjacent to the community of Janvier.

WBEA Executive Director, Dr. Kevin Percy, is pleased to welcome the three Aboriginal groups. “One of WBEA’s goals has been to increase Aboriginal representation at our table. Each of our new members is an important stakeholder and they bring with them the Aboriginal voice and perspective that is so important in our region. One of WBEA’s greatest strengths is our consensus-based governance, and multi-stakeholder membership. This will continue be very important as we move forward and contribute to enhanced, science-based monitoring in the region,” said Percy.