Mikisew Cree withdraw from oil sands cancer study

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Mikisew Cree withdraw from oil sands cancer study

A local band is pulling out an oil sands health study slated for the community of Fort Chipewyan.

The Mikisew Cree First Nation have told Alberta Health they won't be taking part in the survey, partially funded by the provincial and federal governments.

Band Spokesperson George Poitras told the Canadian Press, leadership questioned the independence of the study and were skeptical it would address their concerns over elevated cancer rates.

Dr. John O'Connor, a long-time advocate for the study, echoed those trepidations in an interview with Fort McMurray News.

"The medical profile is what I'm most concerned about, obviously not to the exclusion to everything else, but more urgently given the misrepresentation  that's been happening through government and industry, in terms of the impact of the industry on the environment over the years, the fact that it took independent science to bring all this light, so that was my urgent concern with Fort Chip and Fort Mckay and I don't believe any study like that is going on right now."

O'Connor, who first raised the flag over elevated cancer rates in the community fears that calls for an exploration of the connection between industry contaminants and physical health, will not be answered by the study.

"You know what, I am not taking away from what Dr.Voyageur is doing as a sociology professor, I think she has a deep connection to Fort Chipewyan." explains O'Connor. "I think it very important as well, and what I am most concerned about is the impact on physical health." 

However, the Athabasca Chipewyan and the Fort McKay Metis remain committed to the study which will be overseen by University of Calgary sociology professor Cora Voyageur.

Provincial officials say work will begin as planned this Spring.
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