Indigenous peoples (known as First Nations) in Canada are taking the lead to stop the largest industrial project on Mother Earth: The Tar Sands Gigaproject.
Northern Alberta is ground zero with over 20 corporations operating in the tar sands sacrifice zone, with expanded developments being planned. The cultural heritage, land, ecosystems and human health of First Nation communities including the Mikisew Cree First Nation, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Fort McMurray First Nation, Fort McKay Cree Nation, Beaver Lake Cree First Nation Chipewyan Prairie First Nation, and the Metis, are being sacrificed for oil money in what has been termed a “slow industrial genocide”.
Infrastructure projects linked to the tar sands expansion such as the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline
and the Keystone XL pipeline, threaten First Nation communities in British Columbia, Canada and American Indian communities throughout the United States. Community resistance is growing and Indigenous peoples throughout North America have mounted substantive challenges to tar sands expansion.
Just a few years ago, people in Canada, U.S. and Europe heard little to nothing about the Canadian tar sands.
Today, the tar sands have become a topic of national and international discussion as stories of cancer epidemics in the community of Fort Chipewyan, massive wildlife losses related to toxic contamination, environmental degradation and increased vocal resistance from impacted communities have shattered the ‘everything is fine’ myth propagated by the Canadian and Alberta governments.
A poll conducted in 2010 found that 50% of Canadian citizens believe the risks involved with tar sands projects outweighed the benefits. Yet, tar sands expansion continues. Already the Athabasca delta has been completely altered from a pristine boreal forest, clean rivers and lakes to a devastated ecosystem of deforestation, open pit mines and watershed where fish regularly exhibit tumors and birds landing on contaminated tailings ponds die instantly.
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