An extensive report done on Wood Buffalo National Park contains testimony from Indigenous people in the area. Here are a few examples of what they said:
Matthew Lepine: For birds, I have nowhere to go in fall, spring, summer for eggs ... they are gone. There are places you cannot travel at all. In some places you can smell the stale water. We still try to go to those places, hoping there is water. We get little pitiful (muskrats) now. It’s all we have left. They are hardly even edible.
Jocelyn Marten: Now it’s just a lot of algae. Oh my God, more algae than anything else! Come see in June, July, August the three lakes called Frog Lakes where we used to spend summer. That was one of the main nesting areas for ducks and (coots) and fish. You can’t even go there now these years with a boat. You can’t run a motor in there.
Larry Marten: (Birds) tour around the delta on account of the oil plants. Just a few come in. Even if we have the water we will never have the birds as we used to as the oil plants won’t move. Migratory birds are using different routes because of the plants and no water. Where we used to hunt birds ... I used to drive my dogs or use a snow machine. Now there is nothing!
Gerald Gibot: In the past the ice was blue ice, white, like glass. It really thickened. Now it’s a foam ice. There is a lot of air in the ice. It's not good ice like when I was growing up. You cannot really just cross anywhere without double-checking ice. It's like a slush in a gas station. The ice is similar to that. I worked on the ice for 17 years on the ice roads going to Fort McMurray. I know ice.
Ron Campbell: We are getting so used to the smell from industry. I'll go back when I was a kid. Every day I’d walk from school. In March, when it starts warming up, you get a south wind and then you know spring is coming. That is when (you) get sulphur and other odours in the air from the tar sands. Now all through summer we get that smell every time there is a south wind. You get a funny feeling when you check the (fish) net. Some are deformed and have sores on them. You don’t have an appetite to eat them.
Sloan Whiteknife: Even the moose are less now. And when we go hunting at Birch River I found out that moose are going away because they have less feed. It’s very hard for animals, even young ones after they feed from mom. The moose teach them how to eat. There are no small willows so it’s hard for them. The moose get hungry and skinny and calves are not full grown. The wolf has a better chance to kill them.
Source: Strategic Environmental Assessment of Wood Buffalo National Park
The Canadian Press