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Northwest Territories chapter draws water from Great Slave Lake for Trudeau

Great Slave Lake

The Northwest Territories chapter drew water from Great Slave Lake to urge Trudeau to protect it from the tar sands and pipelines.

The Council of Canadians Northwest Territories chapter has drawn a jar of water from Great Slave Lake to send to Justin Trudeau. The water will be part of a ‘climate welcome’ action in Ottawa on Nov. 7 to remind the new prime minister about the threats posed by tar sands expansion and pipelines to waterways across this country.

The Athabasca River, which is near many tar sands projects, flows north into the Peace-Athabasca Delta, south of Fort Chipewyan, and then into Slave River and Great Slave Lake. The Natural Resources Defense Council has commented, “Northern communities living downstream from the massive [tar sands] tailings dams are aware and concerned about risks presented by the tar-sands industry upstream. A larger spill could threaten not just the Athabasca river but the Peace-Athabasca delta, Lake Athabasca, the Slave river and delta, Great Slave Lake, and the Mackenzie river and delta, all of which empty into the Beaufort sea. Cleaning such a spill could cost billion of dollars.”

Northwest Territories premier Bob McLeod has also been promoting the idea of a 100,000 barrels per day Arctic Gateway pipeline. The 2,400 kilometre long pipeline would run from the tar sands in northern Alberta to the port of Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic Ocean via the Mackenzie Valley. Prior to the construction of this pipeline, the initial proposal is for an existing rail line to take crude oil shipments to Hay River (on Great Slave Lake) and then ship it by barge (on the Mackenzie River) to Tuktoyaktuk on the Beaufort Sea (where tankers could export it to markets anywhere in the world).

In addition, the Royal Oak Mines Ltd.-owned Giant Mine project is located on the shore of Great Slave Lake. The mine closed in 2004, but about 237,000 tonnes of highly toxic, water-soluble arsenic trioxide remain on the site, some of it in subterranean chambers, but some of it in surface structures uncontained and exposed to the elements. Fracking in the Horn River Formation is also a concern. This formation is located in north-eastern British Columbia and extends to Great Slave Lake. More than 500 trillion cubic feet of gas is in this formation considered one of the top gas reserves in North America.

The sign the children in the photo are holding for Mr. Trudeau says, “In 200 years our children’s children should still be able to drink out of the Great Slave Lake. Please protect her.” Great Slave Lake is the second-largest lake in the NWT. Communities situated on the lake include Yellowknife, Hay River, Behchoko, Fort Resolution, Lutselk’e, Hay River Reserve, Dettah and N’Dilo.

Six chapters have now drawn water supplies for the Nov. 7 action. Along with the Northwest Territories chapter drawing water from Great Slave Lake, our London chapter has collected water from the Thames River, our Prince Albert chapter from the North Saskatchewan River, our Saint John chapter from the Bay of Fundy, our Fredericton chapter from the St. John River, and our Sudbury chapter from Tilton Lake.

For more on the ‘climate welcome’ days of action, please click here.

Further reading
Sudbury chapter collects water from Tilton Lake for PM Trudeau (Nov. 1, 2015 blog)
Fredericton chapter collects water from St. John River to oppose Energy East pipeline (Oct. 30, 2015 blog)
Saint John chapter collects Bay of Fundy water for plea to Trudeau government (Oct. 29, 2015 blog)
London chapter collects Thames River water for Trudeau’s ‘climate welcome’ (Oct. 28, 2015 blog)
Prince Albert chapter mails water to Trudeau as a climate welcome (Oct. 21, 2015 blog)