Glorious Alberta oilsands add extra mercury flavour to bird eggs


If there’s one tried-and-tested time of the week to drop a shitty news bomb, it’s certainly Friday afternoon. And if that Friday afternoon comes before a long weekend, even better.

So it comes as little surprise that the Alberta government chose Friday afternoon before the Victoria Day long weekend to issue a health warning on eggs from two northern lakes downstream from the province’s oil sands operations.

According to the Canadian Press, “James Talbot, chief medical health officer, has advised people to restrict their consumption of gull and tern eggs from Lake Athabasca and Mamawi Lake in the Peace-Athabasca delta.”

Talbot told media that the source of the mercury “hadn’t been identified.” Okay, buddy!

But seriously, while we probably can’t legally say Talbot’s wrong, since he’s the expert, c’mon.

Gull and tern eggs may not be a mainstay of the urban diet, but they are an important part of the diet of local people, especially those who still practice traditional land use in northern communities. And the list of compromised or potentially dangerous traditional foods is growing. With fish from the Athabasca River bleeding lesions and sprouting deformities, to alarming levels of PAHs and heavy metals in the organs of moose and other wild meats, those in Fort Chipewyan and other remote indigenous communities are increasingly shit out of luck.

What’s stopping people in northern communities from just abandoning their traditions en masse, anyway? Can’t they just go to the local Northern Store and buy some cheap goods there?

I mean, it’s not like aboriginal people in Canada have rights to a traditional way of life that’s constitutionally protected or anything. They should just get with the times, am I right?

Wait, what? Their traditional rights are constitutionally protected? Oh boy.

[CP via CTV News][image via Jessica Lucia/Flickr]

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