9.29.2010

James Cameron in oilsands 'sponge mode'

The people of Fort Chipewyan have a titanic new ally in their fight to keep their lands and waters clean in the face of growing oilsands development upstream from their community.

After a closed-door meeting Tuesday, Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation said famed film director James Cameron has promised to do what he can to keep helping their cause.

"It's going to be a beautiful relationship," said Adam.

"I'm here to help," agreed Cameron, though he didn't specify what form his support would take.

The Hollywood heavyweight arrived in Fort McMurray on Monday and almost immediately departed on an aerial tour of the oilsands with native leaders who have complained that oilsands pollution is ruining fish stocks and giving them cancer.

Cameron 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.

But he said it was the afternoon meeting with Adam and other community leaders that most impressed him.

"When you come here, the appeal is so passionate and so deeply concerned and you can really feel these people are worried for their kids," said the director, who was born and raised in Ontario.

"When you can't trust the water it's a terrifying thing."

Cameron said he was also encouraged by what he heard in his morning meeting with politicians and oilsands officials.


No comments:

Post a Comment