Photo Story- Fort Chipewyan Water and Health Concerns

Posted by ryanjackson on Sep 7, 2010 in photos, portrait, Ryan's Life, video |

I spent August 23-27th in Fort Chipewyan with Edmonton Journal environment reporter Hanneke Brooymans.  You can read her stories and see my photos and videos at edmontonjournal.com/fortchip

If you don’t know about the issues surrounding Fort Chipewyan I suggest you check out CBC’s special section and also their timeline which is about a year old now but will get you up to speed.

You back now? Great :)

Basically cancer rates in Fort Chip are higher than they “should” be and there is a lot of controversy and confusion over why that is. Many attribute health problems to the fact that Fort Chipewyan is downstream from Fort McMurray and thus the oilsands development. Dozens of news agencies have reported on Fort Chip and about half a dozen documentaries have been done about the issue as well.   It’s a big story and an important issue and I was lucky enough to spend a week up there and capture how the residents of the town feel.

Watch my short documentary of Fort Chipewyan resident’s concerns.

Fort Chipewyan residents have for years suspected that industrial activity upstream of them was connected to cancers and rare illnesses in their community. See Fort Chipewyan for yourself, and hear what residents have to say about the health problems. Video by Ryan Jackson/Edmonton Journal

Another issue is water quantity. In the late 1960’s a large dam was built in B.C. which dropped water levels in the Athabasca.

Go out on Lake Athabasca with Metis elder Raymond Ladouceur and see the changes he attributes to industrial development. Video by Ryan Jackson/Edmonton Journal. Read more about water issues with Fort Chipewyan at edmontonjournal.com/fortchip

Now here is what my still camera saw. A couple pictures were taken in Fort McMurray when we had a layover.

University of Alberta scientist Dr. David Schindler poses for a photo at the Journal office in Edmonton on September 1, 2010. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

This is the living room where Hanneke and I slept in during the week we were up in Fort Chip. We didn't find a place to stay until the last minute and were prepared to camp there if need be.

Moose meat smokes over a fire near in Fort Chipewyan, Alta. during a cultural gathering on August 25, 2010. Many residents still eat traditional meals from the land such as moose and fish despite possibly elevated levels of pollution. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

Elder Cookie Simpson during an interview in her home in Fort Chipewyan, Alta. on August 25, 2010. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

Allan Adam, Chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation looks out over lake Athabasca in Fort Chipewyan, Alta. on August 26, 2010. Adam remembers diving off of the dock when he was a young boy and the water levels were much higher. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

Elder Steve Courtoreille poses for a photo in Fort Chipewyan, Alta. on August 26, 2010. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

Elder Steve Courtoreille poses for a photo in Fort Chipewyan, Alta. on August 26, 2010. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

The sun rises over Fort Chipewyan, Alta. on August 26, 2010. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

FORT CHIPEWYAN, ALTA.: AUGUST 26, 2010 -- The sun rises over small islands surrounding Fort Chipewyan, Alta. on August 26, 2010. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

The receded shoreline of Fort Chipewyan, Alta. along lake Athabasca on August 26, 2010. Residents recall once being able to sail their boats right up to the main steet. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

A view of Syncrude's base mine which is now a tailings pond near Fort McMurray, Alta. (Ryan Jackson/Edmonton Journal)

The sun rises on Fort Chipewyan, Alta. on August 26, 2010. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

Dr. John O'Connor poses for a photo above Fort Chipewyan, Alta. on August 25, 2010. O'Connor first voiced his concerns in 2006 of elevated levels of rare cancers and diseases with the residents of Fort Chipewyan which is downstream on the Athabasca river from oilsands industry in Fort McMurray. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

Dr. John O'Connor poses for a photo with his wife Charlene above Fort Chipewyan, Alta. on August 25, 2010. O'Connor first voiced his concerns in 2006 of elevated levels of rare cancers and diseases with the residents of Fort Chipewyan which is downstream on the Athabasca river from oilsands industry in Fort McMurray. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

Dr. John O'Connor in poses for a photo at the Fort Chipewyan Nursing Station in Fort Chipewyan, Alta. on August 25, 2010. O'Connor first voiced his concerns in 2006 of elevated levels of rare cancers and diseases with the residents of Fort Chipewyan which is downstream on the Athabasca river from oilsands industry in Fort McMurray. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

Melody Lepine, Director of Government and Industry relations for Mikisew Cree First Nation poses for a photo in Fort Chipewyan, Alta. on August 25, 2010. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal). [Note: image was shot with a tilt-shft lens]

Elder Gracie Thacker poses for a photo in front of her home in Fort Chipewyan, Alta. on August 24, 2010. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

Exposed rock along shore lines show how much water has dropped along Lake Athabasca near in Fort Chipewyan, Alta. on August 24, 2010. Raymond Ladouceur says water levels have dropped significantly over the years due to the Bennett dam and industrial water consumption around Fort McMurray. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

Metis fisherman and trapper Raymond Ladouceur points to the exposed rock along shore lines to show how much water has dropped along Lake Athabasca near in Fort Chipewyan, Alta. on August 24, 2010. Ladouceur says water levels have dropped significantly over the years due to the Bennett dam and industrial water consumption around Fort McMurray. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

Metis fisherman and trapper Raymond Ladouceur looks at the low water levels on Lake Athabasca near in Fort Chipewyan, Alta. on August 24, 2010. Ladouceur says water levels have dropped significantly over the years due to the Bennett dam and industrial water consumption around Fort McMurray. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

Dr. John O'Connor and his wife Charlene walk along monument hill in Fort Chipewyan, Alta. on August 23, 2010. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

A view of Syncrude's base mine which is now a tailings pond near Fort McMurray, Alta. (Ryan Jackson/Edmonton Journal)

A scenic view of Fort Chipewyan, Alta. on August 23, 2010. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

Signs left over from a 2008 rally at the Alberta Legislature sit against the wall in a community multi-complex in Fort Chipewyan, Alta. on August 23, 2010. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

A pole at the Fort Chipewyan airport shows the distance to cities across Canada in Fort Chipewyan, Alta. on August 23, 2010. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

1 Comment

Niobe Thompson
Jun 20, 2011 at 10:09 am

Hi Ryan,

We met in Fort Chip last year, and I’m the Director of the CBC doc Tipping Point: Age of the Oil Sands. We’re presently doing a website for the feature version, and it includes face portraits (sketches) of the principal characters. I wonder whether you would be willing to provide high-res versions of your terrific portrait stills of O’Connor to our artist? Please let me know. Thanks!
Niobe


 

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