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Environmental Justice, the Tar Sands, and Indigenous Rights
February 1, 2015 / 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm EST
Tar Sands extraction projects, located primarily in Treaty 6 and 8, have radically damaged and contaminated a huge area of land in so-called Alberta, and poisoned the Athabasca watershed. As a result of the toxic operations, some Indigenous communities are experiencing unusually high rates of rare cancers and other illnesses. Traditional ways of life are also at risk as hunting, fishing, and collecting medicinal plants is becoming more difficult in polluted waters and lands.
These lands are the traditional territories of a number of Indigenous Nations whose right to hunt, fish, and live are protected by Treaties, which are currently being violated.
Moreover, the tar sands are significantly contributing to catastrophic climate change, the effects of which are being felt around the world through extreme weather events. The tar sands are Canada’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions as well as the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. At a time when many countries are moving towards renewable and green energy alternatives, Canada is continuing to push for Tar Sands expansion.
The current drop in the price of oil is helping to slow this trend for now, but prices will inevitably rise again, necessitating continued pressure to stop the irresponsible expansion. The decline in oil prices also raises questions about increases in fossil fuel demand and undermines various attempts at energy conversion using market processes.
Learn about the different processes of extraction of tar sands, the chemicals involved, the controversial tailings ponds, and the resultant contamination of land and water, impacts on surrounding communities, and contribution to global climate change. You will also learn about Treaties in the area and Indigenous rights in general, as well as an assessment of the larger oil sector picture in Canada.
•Heather Milton Lightening, Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign
•Keith Stewart, Climate & Energy Campaign Coordinator, Greenpeace Canada
•Anna Zalik, Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University