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The Body With No Joints

Last First Nation withdraws from ‘Joint’ Oil Sands Monitoring program

Tim Querengesser is senior editor with Alberta Venture. Email Tim

May 23, 2014

by Tim Querengesser

What’s in a name? Well, as of Friday, the ‘joint’ in the Joint Oil Sands Monitoring (JOSM) program refers only to Canada and Alberta, and no longer any First Nation. That’s because the Fort McMurray First Nation, the sole remaining Aboriginal government in the oil sands region that was still working with JOSM, has reportedly announced that it’s leaving.

Back in January, this blog made note that the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and the Mikisew Cree were leaving JOSM. They followed in the path of the Fort McKay First Nation, which left JOSM in October 2013. When the Athabasca Chipewyan and Mikisew Cree departures made news, this blog reported frustration with the group’s structure on the part of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. “Our biggest concern is that under current direction, JOSM does not meaningfully include First Nations, our traditional knowledge, or our treaty rights into its mandate,” Eriel Deranger, a spokesperson for the ACFN, told Fort McMurray Today.

The JOSM was formed in February 2012, inspired by a recommendation from an Alberta working group that examined how environmental regulations in the oil sands are monitored. That group sought to create a system that dealt with cumulative environmental impacts from oil sands projects, rather than just impacts on single projects. While the ambitions may have been lofty, the results have been disappointing for First Nations. When Fort McKay announced it was leaving JOSM, a Financial Post columnist described the monitoring regime as “a mess.”

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