This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
Internationally acknowledged human rights activist and respected vocal oil sands critic, Desmond Tutu, has announced his plans to make a rare international public appearance in Fort McMurray, Alta., to address the audience at a First Nations treaty rights conference. The Nobel laureate is popular for his pivotal role in the battle against South African apartheid.
The 82-year-old South African archbishop is scheduled to tour the oil sands by helicopter on Friday, after which he is planned to give the keynote speech at the ‘As Long As The Rivers Flow’ conference on treaty rights in Fort McMurray on Saturday. Mr. Tutu’s visit is anticipated to reinforce the international scrutiny of production in the oil sands, i.e. Canada’s fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. Tutu already has a clear and firm stance over his concern about climate change, as he claims to stand in utter solidarity with communities fighting proposed oil sands pipelines such as TransCanada’s Corp.’s Keystone XL or Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway.
According to his writing in The Guardian last month, Tutu said that it is “appalling” that the United States is debating the Keystone pipeline, which would transport “830,000 barrels of the world’s dirtiest oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.” In addition to that, Tutu threatened to use an apartheid-type protest against fossil fuel companies, including boycotts, divestment and sanctions. He stated that “if the negative impacts of the pipeline would affect only Canada and the U.S., we could say good luck to them,” adding “but it will affect the whole world.”