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  • Officials in Prince Albert closed the water intake line here along the river on Tuesday.

    Officials in Prince Albert closed the water intake line here along the river on Tuesday. | Photo: @goeastofyeg

Published 26 July 2016

More than 35,000 residents in the City of Prince Albert have no water right now.

Two of the main Indigenous groups in Canada are demanding Husky Energy Inc. to assume responsibility for cleanup following a catastrophic spill in which 200,000 litres of oil bled into the North Saskatchewan River, one of two major estuaries in that country.

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The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, or FSIN, and the Prince Albert Grand Council, or PAGC, have complained because Indigenous communities – representing more than 12 percent of the province's population – live near the river and use the medicinal herbs that grow by the shore for therapeutic purposes.

But the spill has already begun to affect the population, forcing authorities in the west-central city of Prince Albert to shut down the intake at its water treatment plant, turning off the taps to more than 35,000 residents, according to local press reports.

Canada is regarded as a "friendly petro-state," and in 2011, the government of conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, formally withdrew the country from what was, at the time, the world's only existing treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the Kyoto protocol.

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The country´s current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in April signed the Paris agreement on climate change at the United Nations headquarters in New York, pledging that his country "will harness the power of renewable energy as a way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

However, grassroots and civil society movements have criticized the manner in which global oil giants like Husky Energy continue polluting the environment in Canada and the world.

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