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Nakota people.

To the Nakota people, Wabamun Lake in central Alberta is sacred. The ancestors went there to gather medicinal plants and roots. They went there to perform purification ceremonies.

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When a Canadian National Railways (CN) train derailed next to Wabamun Lake in August, it spilled 1.3 million litres of bunker C fuel oil and 70,000 litres of Imperial pole treating oil into the lake.

The spill covered Wabamun Lake almost in its entirety. The Nakota people wondered if this important body of water would be able to recover.

CN hired Eastern Canada Response Corporation (ECRC), a firm that specializes in marine oil spill response services, to do the clean up. ECRC, in turn, worked with members of the Paul Band to clean up their portion of the lake themselves.

On Oct. 16, with about everything done that could be physically done to restore the lake before freeze-up, members of the Paul Band, CN and ECRC held a blessing at water's edge that, they hope, will help restore the spirit of Wabamun Lake.

"The oil that got into the lake took the spirit out of the lake," said Paul Band Chief Daniel Paul. "We want to hold a ceremony, have blessings, have sweat lodges. Hopefully we can restore some of the spirit that was in the lake."

"So far CN has been very co-operative," said the chief. "I understand that there is still some oil in the lake, there is still some staining along the shorelines, there is quite a bit of work left to be done. That is when they (CN) will be tested. Are they going to return to the lake next year?"

James Carson, president and general manager of ECRC, said the company took part in the blessing because employees had become friends with many members of the band while working together.

Stories by George Young
COPYRIGHT 2005 Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta (AMMSA)
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Tradition & Business
Author:Young, George
Publication:Wind Speaker
Date:Dec 1, 2005
Words:311
Previous Article:Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT).
Next Article:Get the most from Section 87.
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