WINNIPEG – Heavy oil from a Husky Energy Inc. pipeline began to spill into the North Saskatchewan River near North Battleford, Saskatchewan on July 20, 2016. “This tragedy highlights the inherent risks undertaken by companies like Husky Energy Inc. that threatens our freshwater and ultimately the health of our ecosystems. Moving forward it is important to create space and empower young people like the Divest UWinnipeg student group who are actively lobbying the University of Winnipeg to divest itself from investments in Husky Energy Inc. and other fossil fuel companies. It is the young people who must bare the long term risks of these ongoing tragedies. It is also the young people with the solutions that are going to protect the North Saskatchewan River and other fresh water systems for future generations,” said Assembly of Manitoba Grand Chief Nepinak.
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs state that “Very few facts have been shared publicly with respect to the amount of damage and potential damage to freshwater further downstream from the spill site. In light of this ongoing tragedy and uncertainty of the safety of freshwater for tens of thousands of people who rely on the river for life downstream, Grand Chief Derek Nepinak is calling for support of an immediate boycott & divestment of Husky Energy Inc. products and services”.
“Our elders have told us that at its source, this water system, is one of the purest arteries of freshwater anywhere in the world and that it must be protected in order to sustain life in the northern plains and the boreal forest. Cultures & languages have been built on this watershed over tens of thousands of years and in less than a few decades of ‘development’, the very life of the river is at risk. To poison this source of life for a great number of people, animals and plant life is a tragedy and we must hold the company to account for this. As a community of people from all over the world, whose children and grandchildren will inherit our decisions in this critical time we must be willing to protect the health of our families & communities. It is community action that will have to hold the company accountable as neither industry nor governments appear willing to demonstrate leadership on this matter” stated Grand Chief Nepinak.
Grand Chief Nepinak is calling on this boycott & divestment until such time that Husky Energy Inc. can demonstrate that its actions in mitigating damages were timely and reasonable and that it will commit to all measures necessary to eliminate any possibility of a future spill of toxic substances that can destroy life. The North Saskatchewan River connects many communities across the northern plains before eventually passing through the Opaskwayak Cree Nation and joining other waters before Lake Winnipeg.