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Native leader asks James Cameron to back fight against oilsands

In Canada on September 28, 2010 at 20:41
Back to Native leader asks James Cameron to back fight against oilsands

Native leader asks James Cameron to back fight against oilsands

September 28, 2010

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Film director James Cameron speaks with reporters as he tours the Syncrude’s Bill’s Lake mine reclamation site, north of Fort McMurray, Alta., on Tuesday.

John Ulan/THE CANADIAN PRESS

FORT CHIPEWYAN, ALTA.—As Hollywood heavyweight and self-professed human sponge James Cameron soaked up information about Alberta’s oilsands on Tuesday, an aboriginal leader downstream of the operations implored the director to put his money where his mouth is.

Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam said he’ll ask Cameron for support for the band’s legal fight against pollution from the industry.

“I’m hoping he will be able to continue the relationship with this community and will be able to help in more ways than one,” said Adam, who was one of the leaders slated to meet Cameron during his visit to Fort Chipewyan on Tuesday afternoon.

“Wherever he’d be able to contribute or where he’d be able to assist us in ways of fundraising.

“He has a lot of contacts throughout the world and he’s very prominent about how he takes his position on the environment.”

Cameron arrived in Fort McMurray on Monday and immediately met with native leaders before taking an aerial tour of the oilsands.

He spoke briefly to reporters about the inspiration for his visit — his belief that places such as the oilsands are very much like the fictional planet Pandora in his movie Avatar, where mining expansion threatened the indigenous population.

Cameron spent Tuesday morning touring oilsands operations south of Fort Chipewyan with Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner and industry representatives. They visited Syncrude’s Bill’s Lake, an area the company has turned back to wilderness after mining the oily bitumen below the surface.

Cameron’s calling the oilsands a “black eye” to Canada’s reputation earlier this year was the impetus behind his trip. On Tuesday, however, he insisted that his mind is open.

“I’m still taking it in,” he said. “I am still in sponge mode, just sort of finding out how all this works and getting my arms around it conceptually.”

In Fort Chipewyan, he was to talk to people concerned about the health effects of living downstream of the giant industrial area. They say the pollution is ruining fish stocks and giving them cancer.

He was to meet with Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach in Edmonton on Wednesday.

“You can look at pictures of it, but until you have flown over it and you see the scope and scale of it, you don’t really realize what an enormous undertaking this is,” Cameron said.

The Canadian Press

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