Actor and longtime environmental activist Jane Fonda was in Edmonton Wednesday to express concerns about resource development in the province.
Greenpeace Canada held an event Wednesday at the University of Alberta, where Fonda and several indigenous leaders shared their concerns. They stated why they oppose the federal government’s approval of Line 3 and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion, as well as the possible approvals of the Keystone XL and Energy East projects.
Greenpeace said the projects are in conflict with Canada’s commitments to indigenous rights, the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Paris climate accord.
The news conference opened with remarks from Allan Adam, chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. Members there have long raised concerns about cancer rates in the community and how it may be linked to oilsands activities upstream from them.
“The almighty dollar trumps more than human life does,” Adam said, adding nothing has changed under an NDP government as projects are still being approved and concerns not being addressed.
“Our people are still being diagnosed with cancer at an alarming rate,” he said.
“Nor the federal or the provincial government has done anything regards to a health study that we keep lobbying for. Nor does industry want this health study to commence.”
WATCH ABOVE: Talking about the frosty reception she has received since coming to Alberta, actress and environmental activist Jane Fonda said shouts of “you’re an outsider” apply to everyone who isn’t indigenous.
Fonda said it has been an “interesting” couple of days in Alberta.
“We’ve heard a few people shouting at us, ‘Go back to where you came from, we don’t want outsiders here.’ You know, but lets be real: the only people here who are not outsiders are the Indigenous people,” she said.
Fonda said she did not come to trash Alberta or Fort McMurray, but that now is the time to do what’s right for the earth. She said she sympathizes with workers who are concerned about losing their jobs and supports the desire of some First Nations for greater prosperity.
“I know they make good money, and I understand that you go where the money is to support your family – that’s understandable,” she said.
“But we have to, at this point in history, take a long view and understand we’re facing the same problem. We have to unite in the face of our common enemy. And we have to understand that there’s another way, another way that’s better for the men and women who are working in the fossil fuel industry.”
She also said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau betrayed his comments in during the Paris Agreement talks about respecting indigenous rights when he approved pipelines. “We shouldn’t be fooled by good looking Liberals,” she said.
Watch below: Actress Jane Fonda slammed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Wednesday as a “disappointment” for approving several energy pipelines, saying that he has “betrayed every one of the things he committed to.”
On Tuesday, Fonda was in the oilsands hub of Fort McMurray in northern Alberta to meet with local First Nations. She was also taken by Greenpeace on an aerial tour of several oilsands developments in the area.
“It’s like someone took my skin and peeled it off my body over a very large surface,” she said when asked about her thoughts on what she saw. “I hurt. It made my body ache to watch it.”
She also expressed sympathy for the aboriginal people in the region who claim energy operations have affected the potability of water.
Watch below: Jane Fonda has followed the path of Leonardo DiCaprio and James Cameron by touring the oilsands and calling for development to be halted. As Tom Vernon explains, that has some in Alberta up in arms.
Pro-oilsands activists say this is not the time for Fonda to be visiting or criticizing energy development, with the region still recovering from the May wildfire and a depressed economy.
Robbie Picard, founder of the group OilSands Strong, tried to talk to Fonda in Fort McMurray on Tuesday. However when he tried to inform her the ways local aboriginal groups are involved in local energy operations, he was cut off by one of Fonda’s handlers and the actress was ushered away.
“I don’t believe that people in Fort McMurray are going to standby and let celebrities come here,” Picard told Global News. “She’s a person, she might be rich, she might be famous but she’s just a person. She has a very limited understanding of the oilsands.”
Fonda is the latest in a long string of prominent people who have visited the oilsands, including musician Neil Young, Hollywood director James Cameron and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.