FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. - Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu has taken an uncompromising stand against the oilsands while urging all sides to work together to protect the environment and aboriginal rights.
Speaking at a conference on the oilsands and treaty issues, the hero of South Africa's apartheid resistance has called oilsands oil "filth" that is created by ugliness and greed.
Tutu says the expansion of the industry is damaging the entire planet's climate, stripping local aboriginal people of their rights.
At the same time, he points to the experience of his own country overcoming generations of racial intolerance as an example of how widely differing positions can be brought together through mutual good will.
Tutu's remarks, leavened by his trademark infectious laugh, ended with the crowd on its feet while he chanted, "we are connected."
Tutu has been brought to the oilsands capital by the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and a Toronto law firm specializing in aboriginal law.