Dr. John O’Connor Fired? Why? Alberta tarsands industry and Prentice-Harper government spite? Get rid of O’Connor before the long awaited tarsands-harm health study begins?

Alberta doctor that found higher rates of cancer in First Nation communities fired by health board by Brandi Morin, May 11, 2015, ATPN National News

A doctor servicing the community of Fort Chipewyan, Alta. (Fort Chip) has been fired and said he was given no explanation as to why.

Dr. John O’Connor made international headlines when he first spoke out about elevated cancer rates in Northern Alberta communities and believed they were linked to tar sands activity from toxins leaking out into the surrounding land and water systems. A claim that was later supported by a study partially funded by Health Canada.

“I am in shock,” said O’Connor about the sudden termination. “I am stunned. I got chest pain when I heard this. I’m very sad.”

O’Connor has worked in the small community of Fort Chip, located 300 km north of Fort McMurray, for almost 16 years.

Fewer than 1,500 people live there in the hamlet includes the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and Mikisew Cree First Nation people.

O’Connor said he received a termination letter via email from the health director of the Nunee Health Board Society Friday afternoon.

After advising that his professional services were no longer required, effectively immediately, the letter goes on to state: “In addition, you have no authority to speak to or represent the Nunee Health Board Society in any way to any other individual, party or entity.”

Download (PDF, 242KB)

“I emailed back and asked them ‘why?’ but didn’t get a response,” said O’Connor.

“It’s like losing a very close family member except they’re still there. Like I’ve been put into exile.”

In 2007, four years after O’Connor sounded the alarm regarding his concerns of a rare type of cancer he noticed trending among residents in Fort Chip, Health Canada accused him of engendering mistrust, blocking access to files, billing irregularities, and raising undue alarm in the community.

The professional misconduct charges threatened his medical license with the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons, however O’Connor was cleared of all charges minus raising undue alarm.

Then in March 2009, the residents of Fort Chip released a statement in support of O’Connor and demanded that the remaining charge against him be dismissed.

“This charge of ‘causing undue alarm,’ since it was lodged, was the cause of much frustration and disbelief by residents of Fort Chipewyan,” the statement said.”Frustration, because the residents of the community have never been consulted on whether we agree with the charge; and disbelief that the very responsible authority who is charged with protecting our interests and our health was actually lodging the complaints against Dr. John O’Connor, rather than coming to the aid of our community to find resolution to Dr. John O’ Connor’s claims.”

He was cleared of the remaining charge in November 2009.

O’Connor has been providing 24/7 on call medical care to the remote community for the last several years and has built relationships with the people there.

Relationships, he said are harder to establish in an Aboriginal community.

Another doctor, Esther Tailfeathers who had been working alongside O’Connor in Fort Chip for the last three years left suddenly last month.

O’Connor said that two new doctors are being brought in to service the community, however, he’s concerned that it may be difficult for them to become familiar with patient files and complex treatment plans.

Patti Grandjambe, a resident of Fort Chip said she was very sad to learn of O’Connor’s termination.

“He went out on a limb for us and speaking out about the higher rates of cancer” she said. “Now that he’s gone who do we turn to?”

O’Connor told APTN National News that no matter what happens, he will continue to advocate for the community and to push the Alberta government to follow through on a commitment to a comprehensive health study of cancer rates in the region.

As for answers as to why he was suddenly booted from the community he holds so near to his heart, O’Connor isn’t sure he’ll get any.

Now, he said he feels like a part of himself was left behind in Fort Chip.

“It’s like a part of you is gone. Maybe in a few months it will be a little bit less, but I know I won’t stop contact with the community that’s for sure. They’ll always be family,” he said.

O’Connor will remain the health director and family physician in Fort McKay First Nation and continue to work with the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre in Fort McMurray.

Fort Chip leadership officials, the Nunee Health Board Society and Alberta Health Services were unavailable for comment.

John O’Connor’s Fort Chipewyan duties suddenly terminated by Vincent McDermott, May 10, 2015

After 15 years, Dr. John O’Connor has been told his medical services are no longer needed in Fort Chipewyan.

On Friday evening, the famous doctor was told by the northern hamlet’s Nunee Health Authority that his consulting services would be coming to an end. Two other doctors – “They’re really good physicians,” he says – will continue his role.

However, O’Connor has not been told why the health board made this decision, up until Friday, he was under the impression his job was secure.

“I feel like a part of my family has been ripped away from me,” he said on Saturday evening. “It’s very unsettling this was being discussed without me.”

O’Connor says that on Friday morning, he was on a conference call with Alberta Health Services and several local doctors. There were rumours of changes to the board’s bureaucracy coming, but was told not to worry.

By noon, he was forwarded an email chain from Nunee and AHS informing him of the news. No reason was given and since then, O’Connor has not heard from Nunee or AHS. Representatives from both AHS and Nunee could not be reached for comment.

“I haven’t been told of any complaints made by me from patients or staff. I’ve always tried to be there for Fort Chipewyan,” he said. “If I’ve done something wrong, I would love to know.”

O’Connor’s on-call consulting role for Fort Chipewyan involved advising nurses and paramedics, refilling prescriptions, and arranging medevacs and admissions.

This move does not leave O’Connor unemployed; he is still health director and a family physician in Fort McKay, and involved with the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre in Fort McMurray.

O’Connor told board members on several occasions that, if Nunee was experiencing financial hardship, he would work for free, or at least drastically reduce the number of invoices he filed.

“It has become second nature,” he said. “I’ve been involved in very hairy cases like premature labours, nasty overdoses and cardiac problems. I’ve spent an hour or two directing staff what to do while transporting patients. I’ve stopped what I’ve been doing on vacations to do what I can.” [Emphasis added]

From: “Caroline Adam” email hidden; JavaScript is required
Date: May 8, 2015 at 2:51:37 PM MDT
To: “‘John O’Connor'” email hidden; JavaScript is required
Cc: “‘Richard Ibach, Dr.'” email hidden; JavaScript is required, “‘Manish Joshi'” email hidden; JavaScript is required, “Blue Eyes Simpson” email hidden; JavaScript is required, “Flossie Cyprien” email hidden; JavaScript is required, “Margo Vermillion ” email hidden; JavaScript is required, “Paul Tuccaro” email hidden; JavaScript is required, “Roxanne Marcel” email hidden; JavaScript is required, “Trish Merrithew-Mercredi” email hidden; JavaScript is required
Subject: Termination of clinical  on call – consulting coverage – Fort Chipewyan

Good afternoon John,

Please find a letter of termination of services effective immediately as per the decision of the NHBS Board of Directors.

Caroline Adam
Health Director
Nunee Health Board Society
PO Box 476
Fort Chipewyan, Alberta
Phone:  780 697 3650  ext. 238
Cell: 780 792 4769
Fax: 780 697 3565

2015 05 08 snap Nunee Health Board Society to Dr. John O'Connor Letter of termination of services

 A few comments from facebook on this news:

Brandi Morin
Just met with Dr. John O’Connor who is a physician that has worked in Fort Chipewyan since 2000. He said that yesterday he received a sudden notice of termination of his services in Fort Chip effective immediately.
He said he is shocked, stunned and feels like he’s lost a very close family member…
Dr. O’Connor is known for advocating for the community on environmental issues. He believes that environmental toxins linked to tar sands activity that are leaking into the water and the food chain are causing elevated rates of cancer in local communities, including Fort Chip.
Story to come with APTN National News

Faye Ballas, Kelly Cornell, Hal Sawatzky and 26 others like this.
236 shares [as of May 10, 2015, 10:30 AM]

Debbie Sandberg Is this 4 real? There has been no other Dr who has done so much for the community! And I know this to be true as I was privileged to work with him in Ft Chipewyan at the nursing station. Is this how we treat those who have done so much & asked for so little in return????

Stephanie Sydiaha In harperland, this is standard treatment. The correctional investigator Howard Sapers who has served well for 11 years, and has shone bright light on our prison system was terminated without cause a few days ago.

Hal Sawatzky Asked so little in return, I question his motivation. I will look up how much he charges for a speaking engagement.

Hal Sawatzky http://www.ethicaloil.org/…/mythbusting-do-the…/

Ethical Oil.org | Mythbusting: Do the Oilsands Cause Cancer?
A choice we have to make

Hal Sawatzky So are all of these institutions trying to hide the truth?

Lee Deranger Hal, I have responded to this already. Your actions in posting it again on this thread make it fairly apparent that you are not interested in facts, but seek to discredit Dr. O’Connor.

Using “Ethical Oil” in an attempt to do so is laughable.

I have taken a screen shot of your slander of him elsewhere on the thread as well, in case you decide to delete it.

Lee Deranger And yes, it appears that “Ethical Oil” is trying to hide the truth. If you read that story, you will see that they stated this:

“—and was found guilty by the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons of serious ethical breaches. “

Dr. O’Connor was cleared of all charges by the College of Physicians & Surgeons.

Stephen Kelland Nothing from ethical oil is worth reading .the whole thing was set up as a propaganda machine

Kelly Ann Cull Hal Dr O Connor was my nana doctor my moms and mine ! His motivation was he had a good heart and was raised by a good momma. If you have to question a strangers motivations for being a good person staying true to his patients and doctors oath what is so ugly inside your dark heart to not understand good deeds??? I question your humanity.

Douglas Newman Terrible! The Harper “Goon Squad” is now wading in with a new and devastating tactic against We, The People. We need to expose the *globalist hand* behind all of Herr Harper’s manipulations against *our* free society! If there is anyone who should be terminated, it should be Harper and his “Goon Squad” of thieves.

Solidarity gets it done, folks!

Monique Sundlie Cons did this. He is a true advocate for Fort Chip

Cathie Baysarowich Oh no!!! This is the worst news ever! You are an amazing doctor. Don’t ever let anybody tell you any different. You have saved my life so many times. I am forever grateful. This breaks my heart that you are being treated like this.

Joyce Smorong Do they just relieved what they have done? To find a caring doctor who has so many years of experience, who went beyond and risked his career trying to inform the public regarding the high cancer rates in Fort Chipewyan. Plus northern doctors are on a steady decline, choosing big cities over small towns. At least he interacted with his patients and not just focusing on their computer and ignoring them. I have to say who made this decision, should have really considered the communities health and wellness. Shame on them.

Angel Renae Cuz big oil companies don’t want a paper trail of the havoc they are causing to the communities there

Cookie Simpson My heart is broken for my doctor and dear friend..

Traci Braaten We shall all back him up!

Georgina Cardinal Dr, O’conner is the most caring and loving doctor

Michelle Robinson We now have a new government. I think if he appealed to the Health Minister, this will change.

Deep A Byss who’s the new health minister?

Michelle Robinson We’re all waiting..

Bernadette Flett You’ve got to be kidding. We no longer have Dr. Tailfeathers, at least with Dr. O’Connor being on call for Ft. Chip we would have a Doctor who knows our medical history. Dr. O’Connor went above and beyond the call of duty for Ft. Chip, and this is how we treat him. A very caring and compassionate man, who would do his darnedest to help you as much as possible. This is such sad news. I hope the people responsible will reconsider.

Daryl B Martell man, when you blow the whistle on the wrongs of people in power this happens……you people should watch kevin annett:unrepentant … same thing but residential school and the united way church….its on youtube….power currupts the weak minded, it infects them with greed and their values are bought out …. especially our crime minister….I am tired and ranting now lol

Kit Wilson-Pote Well. WTH?! Awaiting the story to find out why the termination has happened … ‘did the gov’t buy out the community leaders to shut the good doctor up’ is one theory that’s come to mind …

Marina Duarte Worked with him closely as a nursing student . Dr o’ Connor is one of the most amazing/ compassionate / caring people I know and guess what he is a doctor on top of that , yes , this man is that amazing . He does so much for the community !!

Daryl B Martell call your MLA

Monique Sundlie I used to live at Gunner sask on Lake Athabasca in the early 70s when my dad built and operated the fresh water fish plant there. Everyone ate healthy fish and animals from that area. Fish was not full of pus, cancer and parasites like it is now. There is no way anyone could operate a fish plant now that would be impossible. Also The water was 20 feet higher in the lake compared to then. The lies cons have told to make this shit ok and some people believe it , it’s amazing the ignorance.

Carol Buchanan Unbelievable! Will be anxiously waiting to hear what this is about,,,,it’s hard to believe that the ‘powers that be’would be so UNJUST!! We love you, Dr O’Connor!!

John Stewart What The Hell Is Going On Here ? Whose The Doing This First Dr. Tailfeather Now Dr. o’Conner ! Get Nunee !

Beverley Carter I would like to know WHO terminated his services! Who is responsible? What reason has been given? Has a replacement been chosen or brought in? This information should be available to the community! This should not be allowed to pass without getting all the pertinent information, and making it public! I, for one, have an interest in seeing justice done, and would like to know what is going on! There is a record of mistreatment of Aboriginal people that amounts to abuse in the past, and this seems to be a continuation of the same evil doing. Which bureaucrat is responsible for the decision to terminate Dr. O’Connor’s services, and what organization has that responsibility?

Meagan Repooc This is disappointing. Crossing my fingers that the community can organize and mobilize.

Patti Grandjambe This to heart breaking for Our Elders n Community Members We Already Lost One Of Our Greatest Doctors Tailfeathers was n is the best We had, don’t care if it’s not being said but We need a Doctor to look After Our Elders I’m 100% angst this keep posting n Sharing maybe this will be seen by the right person May Our Creator Walk With You Mr O’Conner Hiy Hiy

Agnes Finney Community members need to start asking some questions. John is one of the best Doctors out there. Our community was blessed to have him.sad news for Fort Chip!!!!

Hazel Mercredi Obviously was not a community decision who runs Nunee what are they thinking

Jennell Vermillion John O’Connor you got a good heart, where God places you is where you are meant to be. The universe has a funny way of working things out. For all you do for our people it will not go unnoticed and you will be blessed. Prayers doc

Carrie Lester I thought he left years ago, when he felt forced out, but continued to see patients virtually every week or so via internet … he moved back home …to … Nova Scotia (?)

Lee Deranger Carrie, he’s from Ireland.

Joan Mary Hughes Belford Sounds suspiciously like a Con-game, probably have him listed as some sort of environmental or human rights terrorist 

Tania Dashcavich Wow this is sad whats happing behind closed doors we don’t know about, makes you think, first dr Tailfeathers, now dr o conner, in this town the truth Allways comes out and for you doctors please speak up and speak the truth, why? there is a reason be honest and share so we can make change for our children health and our people! Prayer smudge the truth comes out!

Annie Boucher That’s too bad

Michelle Whitford You have go to be kidding

Lori Woolsey Justice shall prevail. A Dr. and man with true integrity

Mary Lepine I’m so upset I could cry for such a sad news. This can’t happen who will ever do so much better for the people of Fort Chip. I have so much respect & faith in Dr. O Conner. Why! Who! Is responsible for cancelling his contract? Dr O Conner your the best we will never have a Doctor who care so much the people of Fort Chip

Mary Lepine I am shock & upset! We have to get him back whatever it takes. He’s my friend and my doctor who always got out of his way to help, listen and care about the people of Fort Chipewyan I have so much faith & respect for him, who is responsible for this. We will never find someone like Dr. O’Conner. Who is responsible for this, obviously this person never had any health issues/matters.

Gerry Brin call David Eggen who is probably going to be the NDP Minister in Charge of the Health Portfolio. David’s office # 780-451-2345 his EA is Lindsay. Call Dave’s Office on Monday. Contact your NDP MLA for Fort Chip. Explain what’s happening. This is political payback from Dr Jim.Talbot of AHS for embrassing him last year on the Exotic Cancers found in Ft. Chip.

Linda Kennedy I think this is called kill the messenger. HARPER is an expert at assassinating human values and dignity.

Carolyn Willmore Dr. John, your publicity about cancer rates in the Fort Chipewyan region of the Alberta tar sands reached all the way here to Vancouver. Like so many other Facebook posters who spread the word, your News went through me to FB ‘Friends’ clear across Canada then down into the US to Arizona, Detroit and Los Angeles then by ‘Sharing’ all across the States no doubt and I am certain it is still circulating in the world.

You made an impact.

So -sorry- to hear of this injustice, all because you told the truth and care about human life and impact on the environment.The oil patch poohbahs don’t want word to get out about the harm they are doing. Use your anger to propel the story even further. Thank you!Heart

Maxwell Gail Jr I hope this gets corrected. Or is the door that opens when another closes.

Lana Marie T Graham He couldnt be bought.. So “they” sold him out! Very sad

Hal Sawatzky So, if these arent facts what are?

Lee Deranger Apparently repetition doesn’t help you with comprehension. Continue posting that idiocy whenever you don’t have a coherent response.

Lee Deranger And you haven’t responded regarding your slanderous allegations against Dr. O’Connor.

Hal Sawatzky An ad hominem attack from your situation is what I would expect. But if you actually read what I posted, one of two things would occur. You would have read that he was convicted and by whom then you would either accept it or reject it. You have done neither so I have no more to add than this. You have to put in a cognitive effort in order to have a valid opinion. I hope your delusion serves you well as it will not assist in the betterment of the situation of the peoples you seek to help.

Katie Ward Chiasson But he wasn’t convicted, the College of Physicians and Surgeons cleared him of all charges. In the face of a fact like that, why do you insist on repeating a lie? “When he suggested that the cancer could explained by pollution from the oil industry, he was accused of misconduct by Health Canada and risked losing his medical licence. And although he’s been cleared of all charges, doctors throughout Alberta are now reluctant to diagnose patients who think the oil industry has impacted their health.” http://www.vice.com/…/interview-with-dr-john-oconnor-a

We Interviewed Dr. John O’Connor, One of the First Tar Sands…

Hal Sawatzky The entire issue here is that he isnt an oncologist he is a fear mongerer and shall always be treated as such. There is no larger a problem with cancer in the northern community than there is in the general poplulation. There is no rampant cancer within the long term workers of the plants. The union halls have very good doctors who would have noticed any increase in horrible cancers within its workforces who are alot closer than the community. The toxins within the food chain have been there for millenia and shall remain there long after the oil monsters have gone home. It will continue to leech from the land for millions of years. And yes I would drink the water there as well.

[Reality check: 

2014: Alberta doctor John O’Connor to meet U.S. senators in Washington, D.C., to discuss health effects of tarsands development

2014: Alberta workplace fatalities close to record numbers in 2013, led by a near doubling of fatalities caused by occupational disease

2014: New Study: Emissions may be two to three times higher, some pose cancer risk; Environmental health risks of Alberta tarsands probably underestimated

2014: Karla Labrecque’s doctor refused to do a blood test until he consults with a local politician; Mike Labrecque gets sick working for Baytex, Baytex lets him go: “You’re done.”

2014: Health report: some Alberta doctors refused to treat families exposed to toxic emissions by Baytex in Peace Country, one lab refused to process a test

2013: Fort Chipewyan rare cancer cases cry out for study; Fort Chipewyan councillor latest resident diagnosed with rare cancer, ‘How can this keep happening?’

2013: Promises promises promises, Alberta government “hopes” to finally have long promised environmental monitoring panel running by early 2014 

2013: Air Pollution and Cancer Spikes linked in Alberta; Alberta’s Oil Legacy: Bad Air and Rare Cancers, Sickening carcinogens now saturate Industrial Heartland, study finds

2013: Carcinogens emitted from Canada’s main fossil fuel hub, study says, U.S. researchers say they found a high incidence of blood cancers among men in Alberta’s ‘Industrial Heartland.’ 
The study by researchers from UC Irvine and the University of Michigan also found a high incidence of blood cancers such as leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma among men in the area, compared with the rest of Alberta and Canada.

“When you get cancers that can be caused by the carcinogens we are seeing, that is reason for concern,” said Isobel J. Simpson, a lead author of the study and a researcher at UC Irvine’s chemistry department. … Three previous studies since 2009 have detected carcinogens in Alberta’s rivers and lakes, near where oil sands are mined. The latest study focuses on a site where oil sands are processed…. [Emphasis added]

2013: Alberta’s Oil Legacy: Bad Air and Rare Cancers, Sickening carcinogens now saturate the province’s Industrial Heartland, study finds 
Ten known or probable carcinogens now saturate the air downwind of Alberta’s Upgrader Alley, the nation’s largest bitumen and hydrocarbon processing centre, while male blood cancers and leukemia in the region are the highest in the province.

Alberta’s Industrial Heartland, located in a farming community, is comprised of 40 different chemical, petrochemical and bitumen processing operations spread out over a 582 km area near Fort Saskatchewan. … Nearby residents and farmers have complained about bad air, hydrogen sulfide pollution, massive flaring and poor regulation in what they also call “Cancer Alley” for years.

2013: Edmonton Air Carcinogens: Study Finds Alarming Levels Of Chemicals 
Researchers went on to find blood cancers in men in the three counties surrounding the heartland to be consistently higher over the years 1997-2006 than for neighbouring counties. “It was the blood cancers in men that stood out statistically,” Simpson said. “That’s occurring in the same place as the emissions of chemicals known to cause those exact cancers.” [Emphasis added]

2013: Heavy Air Pollution in Canada Linked to Cancer Spikes in Rural Region 
Despite the random times, though, all of the samples showed similar results; amounts of some dangerous volatile organic compounds were 6,000 times higher than normal. The contaminants that the researchers found included the carcinogens 1,3-butadiene and benzene and other airborne pollutants. Yet in order to see how these pollutants might be impacting the community, the researchers had to investigate a bit further. They gathered health records spanning more than a decade that showed the number of men with leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was greater in communities closest to the pollution plumes than in neighboring counties. [Emphasis added]

2013: Carcinogens detected in emissions downwind of ‘Industrial Heartland’  Longtime residents near industrial Alberta have struggled to bring attention to bad odors, health threats and related concerns.

2013: Air quality in the Industrial Heartland of Alberta, Canada and potential impacts on human health by Isobel J. Simpson, Josette E. Marrero, Stuart Batterman, Simone Meinardi, Barbara Barletta, and Donald R. Blake, Available to purchase online October 1, 2013, Atmospheric Environment


Alberta’s Industrial Heartland is Canada’s largest hydrocarbon processing center.

We characterize 77 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted in this region.

Dozens of VOCs, including carcinogens, were enhanced in the industrial plumes.

Sources include propene fractionation, diluent separation and bitumen processing.

Male hematopoietic cancer rates are higher in this region than elsewhere in Alberta.


The “Industrial Heartland” of Alberta is Canada’s largest hydrocarbon processing center, with more than 40 major chemical, petrochemical, and oil and gas facilities. Emissions from these industries affect local air quality and human health. This paper characterizes ambient levels of 77 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the region using high-precision measurements collected in summer 2010. Remarkably strong enhancements of 43 VOCs were detected, and concentrations in the industrial plumes were often similar to or even higher than levels measured in some of the world’s largest cities and industrial regions. For example maximum levels of propene and i-pentane exceeded 100 ppbv, and 1,3-butadiene, a known carcinogen, reached 27 ppbv. Major VOC sources included propene fractionation, diluent separation and bitumen processing. Emissions of the measured VOCs increased the hydroxyl radical reactivity (kOH), a measure of the potential to form downwind ozone, from 3.4 s−1 in background air to 62 s−1 in the most concentrated plumes. The plume value was comparable to polluted megacity values, and acetaldehyde, propene and 1,3-butadiene contributed over half of the plume kOH. Based on a 13-year record (1994–2006) at the county level, the incidence of male hematopoietic cancers (leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma) was higher in communities closest to the Industrial Heartland compared to neighboring counties. While a causal association between these cancers and exposure to industrial emissions cannot be confirmed, this pattern and the elevated VOC levels warrant actions to reduce emissions of known carcinogens, including benzene and 1,3-butadiene.

2013 08 31: Documentary on One: Undue Alarm

2013 Documentary on One Undue Alarm by RTE, on Alberta's Dr. John O'Connor snap

The biggest known oil reserve in the world. A tiny community of aboriginal Canadians. And a Limerick GP.

“Undue Alarm” is the story of how Dr. John O’Connor became a tireless campaigner on behalf of the First Nations communities – and found himself at the centre of a nationwide controversy in Canada.

When Limerick man Dr. John O’Connor went to Canada to practice medicine, he had little idea how his life would unfold.

The Alberta Oil Sands is the biggest industrial project on the planet. The area currently being mined for oil is the size of Ireland. Downstream from this on the shores of Lake Athabasca lies the tiny native community of Fort Chipewyan.

A breathtakingly beautiful place, ‘Fort Chip’ is on the far northeastern tip of the province of Alberta. In winter it is accessible by the ‘ice road’ – a road that is constructed from the harsh northern climate. In summer access is by way of a small plane.

Most of the people that live here are either Méti or First Nation – that is, native Canadians who have lived on the land through traditional methods of trapping, hunting, fishing and gathering berries for generations.

In 2000 Dr. O’Connor – or Dr. O as locals call him – became family physician to the tiny community of 1,200 people. When he started hearing concerns among the community about elevated rates of cancer in the community he did something that no outsider had done before: he listened to them. Then he spoke out about it. And what happened next is not what he expected.

A raft of professional complaints were made against him by the Canadian health authorities. And he would live with one of these – ‘causing undue alarm’ among the community – for five years.

Dr. O’Connor went from being a simple GP to a tireless campaigner and activist on behalf of native communities in Canada.

2012: Dr. David Schindler: Tar Sands Science “Shoddy”, “Must Change”

2010: Benzene Exposure Near the US Permissible Limit Is Associated With Sperm Aneuploidy 

2007 05 19: Backlash against a whistle blower, For years, Dr. John O’Connor has made headlines by continually asking why natives near the oil sands have so much cancer

End Reality Check]

Kelly Ann Cull Why do you waste your time your the only negative one here. Take a look at all the praise the honourable doctor is getting. I know the man personally , do you ? Give it a rest your making your self look really really sad. Your not gaining any ground your articles are bs Ezra sank sun news and now is attempting to self employ out if he living room and that’s your source and back up ??? Lmao

Liz Edwards He must have unearthed something (the truth?) and “They” didn’t appreciate it.

Bonita Slevin Dr. O’Connor was a wonderful doctor and he was my doctor here in Nova Scotia. We hated to lose him, but he was doing such great work out there and they let him go. I can hardly believe it. What will all those poor people do without him?

Brian OConnor This is an outrage!!

Lena Illasiak If he appeals thing may change,,,, I have never met him,,, Just from reading the comments and everyone stands behind,,, things may change, now that there is a new government

Louanne-George Goreham We sure will take him back in a heart beat …my favourite doctor..

Debbielarry Nickerson We will take him back in Barrington in a heartbeat.

Marg Simpson Listen now this is very well known,that if you know to much,sooner or later,gov,t will always cut any one down.!and there is nothing we can do? All I know is that some of them,ARE,a bunch of liars..check /there,systems,,I to has been labeled,jailed,..shackeled,,and pushed out of my own house and home,.also raised,from age four,to 16,in a residential school,surrounded by by barb wires,etc,with no life skills? And I know why..try to stop them,you just can’t they are always right!

Garry Ladouceurg i am not speaking of fort chip.

Garry Ladouceurg this consistently amazes me. When a doctor delivers s ordinary medica services, but to aboriginals, he is a saint. God what a country.. Aboriginal should expect and be delivered not only effective medical services but excellent medical services from any doctor anywhere in Canada. why must we be satisfied with South African rethreads.

Lynn Lamrock What a loss to the community. We will welcome him back to Nova Scotia in a heart beat!

Jackie Batoche Fight for him take a stand and and don’t let corp do this to who is seeing the devastating effects of pollution of or water.

Michael Eshkibok This what happens when you stick up for Native people. Sorry to see this.

Richard Fortin Its the devil trying to crush god dont let him win he is obviously a great person to good thats why the conserv mafia wants him gone

Phyllis Shand Can’t believe this. You are always wanted in Barrington.

Steve Mahler Fact is the con’s don’t want anybody telling the truth

John Leclair Something really stinks here.

Tony O’Flynn Back him up Health minister

Diane Peace Interesting comment Carrie Lester yes ?

Kt Dale What…is it a sin to be a “protector” with a medical licence?????? We cannot be “sheeple”. I pray the community can turn this around sooner than later.

Hal Sawatzky Has it occurred to no one that living on the Athabasca River is dangerous. If you have ever been on it, I have, watched fully natural oil seeps,coal seams disintegrating into the river, naturally occurring oil on surface just outside of the Ft. McKay properties. Trees growing through the surface oil. There is no history of the health conditions that pre-date the oil mines. I am not saying that the shit from the plants is not poison, it is, but it has been long poisoned.

14 Replies

Monique Sundlie I used to live at Gunner sask on Lake Athabasca in the early 70s when my dad built and operated the fresh water fish plant there. Everyone ate healthy fish and animals from that area. Fish was not full of pus, cancer and parasites like it is now. There is no way anyone could operate a fish plant now that would be impossible. Also The water was 20 feet higher in the lake. What ever you meant by that statement is ignorant of facts and even worse it’s a huge lie and just plain old CON propaganda.

Hal Sawatzky So what I hear from your end is that the scientists and other doctors are all liars and there is a giant conspiracy against this group of people. There is no cancer epidemic, the numbers of cancer patients there only slightly, very slightly exceed the average in all communities around this giant country of ours. There is no outbreak. I have hunted and fished in this province for almost 60 years and I have watched water levels go up and down. Does all of the blame ride on the oil companies? No, does some of it lie with them, of course. But to follow bad science with hysteria is not a good way to learn anything.

Hal Sawatzky After reading your post again, it seems that you think I might be lying about my knowledge of the river and its environs. I take exception to that as I have personally observed these things and if you truly dont believe it and would be willing to put money to your mouth, I will take you for an actual field trip. If we dont see what I say exists I will pay for everything, if not, you will.

Lee Deranger Hal, try reading Dr. David Schindler’s peer reviewed study on polyaromatic hydrocarbons in the Athabasca, published by PNAS. Is that the “bad science” you’re referring to?

How familiar are you with Ft. Chip & the environmental problems there?

Lee Deranger Also, try reading the cancer report done by the U of M in 2014.

Hal Sawatzky I am always up for a read, please send links.

Lee Deranger And what “other doctors” are you referring to?

Hal Sawatzky obviously you didnt read the report that I attached to my earlier comments.

Lee Deranger I didn’t see it. Please repost.

Lee Deranger Here’s Schindler’s report:


Oil sands development contributes elements toxic at low…

Hal Sawatzky http://www.theglobeandmail.com/…/the…/article17685139/

The great oil-sands cancer scare
Residents, celebrities and a crusading doctor are convinced Fort Chipewyan is being poisoned….

Lee Deranger And here’s the U of M study:

Health Study in Fort Chipewyan 2014 – Full Report

Health Study in Fort Chipewyan 2014 – Full Report – One River News

Hal Sawatzky http://www.ethicaloil.org/…/mythbusting-do-the…/

Ethical Oil.org | Mythbusting: Do the Oilsands Cause Cancer?
A choice we have to make

Hal Sawatzky https://fcpp.org/…/CPSA%20Investigation%20Report%20…

Lee Deranger LMAO Hal. Margaret Wendt? AND “Ethical Oil”????

Do you sip bitumen kool-aid while you read that stuff?

Hal Sawatzky So what you are saying is that when the shoe is on the other foot it is bullshit but when it appeals to you or your agenda it has to be true? Dont think that I support the oil sands, the companies are evil, the government is evil. What I am trying to do is show you that there are conflicting results and we need to know what is true. The people that are trying to nail down exactly what is gong on in the communities are having difficulty getting answers to the questions that would give us the required information to make an educated attempt to help. If there is something else going on then how can we just keep saying its syncrudes fault. To use the bad methodology that the dear doctor was using is useless and creates animosity before anything even starts.

Hal Sawatzky If you spend a little time investigation this charlatan you will soon discover his antics. He is a self confessed liar and fraud. He has been convicted for just such acts.

Lee Deranger Excuse me? Convicted of what? When? Please enlighten me, as it sounds like slander…. back it up with FACTS.

Barb Thunderhawk Paul And here the gov’t was always talking about how hard it is to get doctors to the remote communities. It doesn’t make sense.

Jill Ferguson Oh for crying out loud

Kaytlynn Ouellette Gene Ouellette

Terry Querdibitty You can’t have a good person treating you, it only means trouble for you. In the USA they have guide lines no narcotics for pain period no referrals unless you have a limb severed government owns us in health care. WTF that is hilary in work with England an Canada

John Leclair The feces are going to hit the air conditioning very soon.

Suzette Nelson Karma…..

Rebecca W. Miller Wierd and rude … and ow just what will the community do for a doctor , it takes a special.someone who wants to live remotely

Stephanie Sydiaha Another critic silenced. But not for long.

Aaron Wallace That’s dreadful news John!

Hazel Mercredi Who’s the nurse in charge what’s wrong with him or her

Sandra L. Rowell It was not the nurse in charge think higher

Hazel Mercredi Ffs

Hazel Mercredi OMG

2015 05 10 Alberta Big NDP Majority, Cartoon Tarsands after shock

After shock Globe and Mail Editorial cartoon

Subject: termination of Dr. John O’Connor by Nunee Health Board Society
Date: Sun, 10 May 2015 09:29:41 -0600
From: Julie Ali email hidden; JavaScript is required
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To Board members of the Nunee Health Board,
I am shocked by the sudden termination of Dr. John O’Connor. He has been a tireless advocate for all citizens in Alberta,
Can you explain to the public the reasons for this decision?
Who can we write to ask for an appeal?
Was this decision politically motivated since I doubt that this termination has anything to do with the professional abilities of this physician?
Please provide the public who pays for these health services the reasons for this decision.
Julie Ali

The members and Officers of the Board of Directors, effective September 2003, are as follows:

· Roxanne Marcel: Chairperson
Community Member at Large

· Lily Marcel: Vice-Chairperson
Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation

· Steve Courtoreille: Board Member
Mikisew Cree First Nation

· Lloyd (Sonny) Flett: Board Member
Metis Local Association

· Jackson Whiteknife: Board Member
Elder Member

· Najia Ahmad: Board Member
Youth Member

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