Last August, Canadian-born rock-n-roll legend Neil Young along with actress Darryl Hannah hit the road in Young’s ethanol-fueled ’59 Lincoln. Last spring, a friend of Young contacted the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) in Alberta about their struggle to keep the XL Keystone pipeline off of their traditional territories, collectively known as Treaty 8. Young is not only famous for his vocal cords but also for his politically-charged messages against governments and groups who seek to destroy the environment and the Indigenous people who’s very existence depends on that environment.
Treaty 8 was the last and largest agreement between various First Nations of Alberta and Queen Victoria, which covers over 840,000 square kilometres. Ever since it was signed, the federal government claims that Treaty 8 which is made up of mostly Cree, Dene and Metis nations, have surrendered any claim to title to all but the lands set aside for reserves. Furthermore, the federal government gave Shell Canada permission to expand its 7,500 hectare Jackpine oil sand mine to 13,000 hectares. Disturbing the environment’s delicate ecosystem will have devastating if not lethal effects on the area’s land, water and animals, not to mention the people who live on that land.
When Young reached Fort McMurray, Alberta last summer, he was shocked at what he witnessed. Young stated, “The fact is, Fort McMurray looks like Hiroshima. Fort McMurray is a wasteland. The Native peoples are dying. The fumes (are) everywhere – you can smell it when you get to town. The closest place to Fort McMurray that is doing the tar sands work is 25 or 30 miles out of town and you can taste it when you get to Fort McMurray. People are sick. People are dying of cancer because of this. All the First Nations people up there are threatened by this.”
In 2002, Young published his autobiography titled, ‘Waging Heavy Peace’ and according to his website, neilyoung.com, he directly criticized Stephen Harper and the Canadian government by stating, “Harper’s Conservatives now compete with Australia’s pro-coal government for the worst climate record in the industrialized world.”
Darryl Hannah had this to say, “My stance against the boondoggle that is the Keystone XL pipeline has been a stand to protect us from exacerbating the effects of the climate crisis. We are already experiencing its force, in the form of killer floods, droughts, massive fires and super storm catastrophes.”
Upon speaking with various members of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Young decided to help them in their legal struggles in fighting the government and the oil companies. Recently, Young has announced he will be performing four benefit concerts, with all funds going towards the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Legal Defence Fund. The concert tour which is called “Honor the Treaties”. will also include performances by talented Canadian jazz artist Diana Krall.
Concerts will happen at Toronto’s Massey Hall (Jan. 12), Winnipeg’s Centennial Concert Hall (Jan. 16), Regina’s Conexus Arts Centre (Jan. 17) and Calgary’s Jack Singer Concert Hall (Jan. 19). Tickets for the concerts go on sale this Friday and can be purchased through Ticketmaster. Seats range in price from $55 to $250.
— Julienne Xene Cross (@ndnstyl) December 11, 2013