Dene National Chief to speak at United Nations conference in Brazil
Yellowknife, N.W.T. – Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus will be tackling local land issues and the Canadian oil sands development when he speaks on a panel at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro later this month.
Erasmus said his message will be that the oil sands are dirty and the Canadian government cannot continue as they are.
“Because they’re violating not only the interests and treaties of our people, but the general public also because they’re not including people in the discussion as to what the future ought to be like,” he said.
His views may not line up with policy from the federal government, but Erasmus said he isn't there to please Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“I’m here because I have to speak the truth,” he said. “The Dene have a mandate to speak out. We have no choice but to defend our own interests. The water coming North is polluted , huge amounts of water are being used and in this day and age, it shouldn’t be happening.”
The meeting comes 20 years after the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
Erasmus said that first conference dealt with global warming and Canada played a huge role in developing the approach to it, but they’ve now gone completely against the ideals of the first meeting.
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