This week on the show, we investigate land in Alberta and water overseas. We speak to Alberta Environment Minister Diana McQueen about the impacts of the new Lower Athabasca Regional Plan on the area’s land and people. Then we speak to members of Azerbaijani communities in Edmonton and Vancouver to find out why they’re moved by the slow death of Iran’s Lake Urmia. As always, we wrap our stories around the week’s top environmental news and events.
Alberta Environment Minister Diana McQueen on Lower Athabasca land use plan
The Lower Athabasca region is ground zero for Alberta’s oil sands. Huge tracts of land have been consumed by mining pits and tailings ponds. For years, industry, First Nations, and environmental groups have been asking the province to clear the air on its long-term plans for how the land there should be used, so when the Alberta government released its land use plan for the Lower Athabasca in August, everyone from Syncrude to wetlands ecologists were watching. Terra Informa’s Chris Chang-Yen Phillips asked Alberta Environment Minister Diana McQueen will mean for the area’s land and people. We reached her by phone in Drayton Valley.
Featured Music: Lay Me Down by Zed Hume
The Slow Death of Lake Urmia
Lake Urmia is one of the largest salt lakes in the world. Located in Iran, between the provinces of East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan, it is a breeding ground for flamingos and one of the largest habitats of a salt-water shrimp. Lake Urmia is a UNESCO Biosphere reserve, and a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. It plays a crucial role in the economic, ecological and social health of the region. Currently, the lake is in danger of drying up. More than just an environmental problem, the deterioration of the lake could impact the 13 million inhabitants of the region. From our archives, Terra Informa correspondent Kathryn Lennon spoke to some members of Azerbaijani communities in Edmonton and Vancouver to hear their concerns.
New Life in Alberta’s Richardson Forest
Life has returned to the site of the Richardson wildfire that burned north of Fort McMurray in May of 2011. Now, just one year after the fire, jack pines can be found springing up between the black and burned remains of the backcountry’s boreal forest.
Tahltans Set Up Roadblock To Oppose Red Chris Mine
Members of the Tahltan Nation are concerned about the impacts that the Red Chris mine would have to their traditional territories, located in northern British Columbia, south of Dease Lake. They have set up a road block on Highway 37 and will be handing out information to passers-by in order to educate people about the critical issues the Tahltan Nation is facing.
Japanese Beetle found in Newfoundland
The Japanese beetle, a lawn and garden pest, has been discovered in St. John’s and Little Rapids Newfoundland. The insect, which can be identified by its metallic green color, wreaks havoc on home gardens by feeding on fruits, foliage, and even grass roots in its larval state.
Yanomami community feared dead
An entire community of Yanomami Indigenous people in the Venezuelan state Amazonas is feared dead, a result of an alleged massacre by gold miners. Only 3 survivors have been accounted for, of a community of 80 people.
Yukon Peel Watershed Staking Ban Extended
The ban on mineral staking in the Yukon’s Peel River watershed has been extended until May of 2013. The territory’s environment minister, Currie Dixon, told the Whitehorse Daily Star that the government would like to see a land use plan in place before the extension expires.
Athabasca Chipewyan Preparing for Jackpine Mine Hearings
The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation is preparing for the Jackpine Mine Expansion Environmental Hearings, which will begin October 29th in Fort MacMurray, Alberta. The First Nation is opposing the project and is concerned about how the Jackpine Mine will impact and infringe their rights.
More on this story: First Nations Perspective (Press Release)
New Enbridge Pipeline Approved in Alberta
The Energy Resources Conservation Board has approved an application by Enbridge to construct and operate two pump stations and a pipeline that would transport bitumen from Fort MacMurray to Sherwood Park, Alberta. The proposed pipeline route is 385 km long and is proposed to carry 400 000 barrels per day of undiluted bitumen.
BC Unitarian Church Dumps Enbridge Stocks
A Unitarian church in Vancouver has divested its Enbridge stocks and is urging its 400 members to do the same. The chair of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver’s Environmental Committee says the church has opposed fossil fuel use since 1993 due to the risk of increasing global warming.
First off, on Friday September 21, an event called “She Speaks: Indigenous Women Speak Out Against the Tar Sands” will take place at the Aboriginal Friendship Center at 1607 East Hastings St (corner Commercial) in Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territories. Doors will open at 5:30pm and the evening will feature dinner and a line up of speakers including: Ta’Kaiya Blaney, a Sliammon Nation youth, Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, the Communications Coordinator for Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Suzanne Dhaliwal is the co-founder of the UK Tar Sands Network, and Melina Laboucan-Massimo, who is Lubicon Cree from Northern Alberta and working with Greenpeace as a tar sands climate & energy campaigner. The event is free and childcare will be provided.
More on this story: Indigenous Environmental Network
Coming up next month, PowerShift 2012 will take place in Ottawa, on Algonquin territories.
Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time. PowerShift 2012 is a youth-led conference seeking to tackle the root causes of climate change head on, end fossil fuel subsidies in Canada, and empower youth to build just and sustainable communities from the ground up. PowerShift will be held from October 26-29 in Ottawa. Join organizations like the Ecology Action Centre, 350.org, CLASSE, and the Canadian Federation of Student in the movement for climate justice.
Anyone interested in attending can go online and register now!
More on this story: PowerShift
The 5th Annual Vancouver Island Traditional Food Conference will be held Sept. 28th and 29th in Port Alberni on Nuu-chah-nulth Territory. The conference is hosted by Tseshaht First Nation, Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities Indigenous Foods Network and the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. The conference is open to all and will feature a look at the sustainability of traditional foods.
More on this story: Ha-Shilth-Sa