Saskatchewan Oil Spill Prompts Senior To Go On Hunger Strike

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A First Nations activist is on a hunger strike to protest how the oil spill on the North Saskatchewan River was handled by officials.

Emil Bell is a 75-year-old Canoe Lake Cree First Nation member who is hoping to protect his community's water supply for generations to come.

In late July, over 200,000 litres of crude oil and other contaminants leaked into the river near Maidstone, Sask. from a Husky Energy pipeline.

About 62,000 people were affected by the spill, as the cities of North Battleford, Prince Albert, and Melfort were forced to shut down their water supply.

Husky employees did not arrive on the site to begin clean up until the day after anomalies in the pipeline were discovered. The government has said the drinking water supply could be unsafe for months.

Bell, , said he hopes his hunger strike draws attention to the issue, prompting the public will step up and demand more accountability.

“We all need water. We need to get together and fight for it. It is a sacred gift,” Bell told the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.

oil spill birds
Volunteers clean a bird after it was caught in the North Saskatchewan River oil spill. (Photo: Lend A Paw Animal Rescue/Facebook)

It's not the first time Bell has made headlines for his activism. In 2014, the then 73-year-old walked 400 kilometres to push for an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.

In 2012, he went on a hunger strike again to support of Idle No More, according to CBC News.

With files from The Canadian Press

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