The James Smith Cree Nation in Saskatchewan has launched a crowdfunding campaign to pay for an oil spill cleanup, after losing patience with the slow response it received from Husky Energy, the company responsible for the spill.
After diverting more than $140,000 from flooding safeguards and other community projects to pay for oil booms, independent water quality testing, and other damage control measures, the community turned to Indiegogo’s Generosity platform to raise $50,000 toward the cleanup effort. Husky “has been aware of their plight since early August,” the Observer reports, but “has not offered any financial or boots-on-the-ground assistance to tackle cleanup” in the community.
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“The way I see it, it’s our livelihood that’s on the river,” said Chief Wally Burns. “I took it into my own hands as a chief to protect my community, my reserve, and my people.”
Since a Husky Energy pipeline dumped more than 200,000 litres of oil and other substances into the North Saskatchewan River July 21, community members “have watched in horror as foam, oil sheen, dead crayfish, and tar have washed up along their portion of the river bank,” writes the Observer’s Elizabeth McSheffrey. “They say birds, frogs, butterflies, and other wildlife that used to be seen around the river have disappeared from its banks since July 25, and are attributing the damage directly to Husky.”
Husky promised a rapid response at a community meeting August 25, but has done little since, Burns said. After providing limited funds for a Cultural Days event in September, then turning down two specific funding requests, “Husky has indicated through emails and phone conversations that it intends to compensate James Smith Cree Nation” for its out-of-pocket expenses, “but no timeline has been given,” the Observer notes.
“Chief Burns has imposed a deadline of October 3 to respond to his requests for cash, but will proceed with cleanup initiatives—no matter the cost—hopefully, with help from online donors.”
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