Honour the treaties with First Nations concert tour travels to the heart of tarsands country in Alberta

From CalgarySun.com

Canadian rocker Neil Young spurns request to meet with energy industry prior to Calgary anti-oilsands show 


Neil Young oilsands presserNeil Young speaks to media at a press conference in Calgary, Alta., on Sunday January 19, 2014. Mike Drew/Calgary Sun/QMI Agency

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Calgary's flooded Saddledome this summer is proof climate change is real and Mother Nature should not be messed with, says Neil Young, repeating his tune about oilsands destroying First Nations.

During a stop in Calgary with his Honor the Treaties concert series Sunday, the Toronto-born singer-songwriter faced the media to re-state his stance of honouring First Nations treaties when it comes to oilsands development.

The concert series is raising money for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) - situated near northern Alberta's oilsands - legal defense fund, which claims development of the Jackpine Mine expansion impinges upon treaty rights.

From the Jack Singer Concert Hall stage, in the city's downtown - home to Canada's largest oil companies - Young said his tour is not an anti-oilsands crusade.

"Our tour across Canada is to bring awareness that the First Nations treaties must be honoured if tarsands expansion is to take place," he said.

He made mention of the flooded Scotiabank Saddledome, underwater to the tenth row following June's deluge.

"That's climate change, the beginning," he said, adding carbon dioxide emissions are a leading cause.

"Mother Nature is nothing to screw around with."

He claimed cancer among First Nations people is thought to be associated to oilsands, and Chief Allan Adam of the ACFN dared anyone to drink from or swim in nearby Lake Athabasca.

"I want to see my grandchildren raised up properly, and I don't want to see anything like this happen to any one of your kids - I don't care what race you come from," Adam said.

"The future doesn't look bright for you, me or anybody else and it definitely doesn't look bright for our future generations."

Earlier in the week, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) said it would welcome a meeting with Young and Adam prior to the Calgary concert, but the pair did not accept the offer.

CAPP was invited by tour representatives to join them on stage at its Calgary press conference, but declined when a request for a neutral moderator was turned down.

"Oilsands producers said we'd be willing to sit down on Neil Young's stage with a neutral moderator and balanced representation, and we're disappointed these reasonable terms could not be met," said Dave Collyer, CAPP's president said in a statement, saying the invitation to meet remains open.

Environmental activist David Suzuki moderated the discussion.

After previously comparing Fort McMurray to Hiroshima, something the town's residents countered by tweeting idyllic images from their city, Young defended himself.

"This is a metaphor - Fort Mac stands for the entire oilsands area," he said.

"I'm not talking about your house on the street in Fort Mac, and it's unfortunate people have taken advantage of the fact that I used the name Fort Mac."

During a Q&A session, Young, who lives in California but calls himself a proud Canadian, admitted to flying on private jets.

He said though he hopes to reverse the damage he has done with his carbon footprint.

"By spreading the word and doing what I'm doing now I may possibly be able to reverse the damage by the change I can make in other people," he said.