indigenous environmentalism

Reject Teck Part 2: All My Relations

This week on Terra Informa we share the second part of an interview with Eriel Deranger, co-founder and Executive Director of Indigenous Climate Action, where we talk about what it means to live in relation to each other and the environment.

In Reject Teck Part 1: Who is Teck?! we shared a background on the mining company Teck Resources Ltd and Eriel explained why the proposed Frontier Oilsands Mine should be rejected. Just before we aired that episode on February 25th, the RejectTeck campaign tasted sweet sweet victory.

Sort of.

Teck rejected itself in a letter published February 23, where it removed it’s application for environmental approval.

While that project has been shelved, the interview we share with you today is deeply relevant because it covers themes that include the ongoing way we approach resource projects, the environment, and each other across this country. Eriel is organizing and campaigning about more than one oilsands mine. Indigenous Climate Action is an Indigenous climate justice organization. That means working to put Indigenous rights and leadership front and center in a climate transition strategy that protects the land, water, and resources we all rely on. 

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Episode resources

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Gallery 1313 — Marissa Magneson Photography

Photographer Marissa Magneson stands in front of the outcome of a collaboration with with West Coast carver, Joshua Prescott. Retrieved from

It is no question that art holds powerful implications for how we view our surroundings, others and ourselves. In 2019 communities of Indigenous artists are coming to the cultural forefront to dispel misrepresentations of Indigenous people as well as centering and celebrating indigenous resilience, sovereignty and cultures.

Terra Informers spoke with Cree, Métis and Norwegian photographer, Marissa Magneson at the 2019 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences that took place in June. Magneson presented a talk titled “Re-Framing History: Flipping Artistic Perspective of Indigenous Identity” which explores how art is used to shape and reshape our understanding of people, history, and places.

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Links to Indigenous Artists

Juno Award winning musician, Jeremy Dutcher

Visual artist, Kent Monkman

Matika Wilbur’s Project 562

Alberta’s inaugural artist in residence, Lauren Crazybull

Links to Headlines

Prominent AIDs activist and artist, Douglas Crimp, dead at age 74.

United Kingdom Tate Galleries taking a stronger stance on the climate emergency after cutting ties with British Petroleum.

New York City garbage trucks adorned with murals highlighting and encouraging sustainability.

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Talking Indigenous-led Environmental Assessment with The Firelight Group


This week on Terra Informa, we have an interview with Dr. Ginger Gibson, one of the directors and founders of the Firelight Group, an organization that works to support Indigenous peoples and governments defending their rights and their land. Terra Informer Dylan Hall spoke with Ginger about the Firelight Group and the successes they’ve seen, particularly in Indigenous-led environmental review as a route for Indigenous Nations’ to express their right to self-governance despite a colonial Canadian state. More information about the Firelight group can be found at their website:, and the report on Indigenous-led environmental review spoken of in the interview can be found here.


85 people have been arrested after protesters occupied five bridges in London, England on Saturday, November 17th in one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in UK history. The blockade was organized as part of a campaign run by Extinction Rebellion, a new group that aims to force governments to recognize and treat the threats of climate change and extinction as a crisis. Extinction Rebellion has organized various other acts of protest during the month of November, resulting in an additional 60 people being arrested for acts of civil disobedience. This Saturday was the climax of two weeks of protest, with approximately six thousand people taking part in the campaign. The group is calling for governments to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025 and to establish a “citizens assembly” to device an emergency plan of action. Extinction Rebellion now has offices based in central London and has eleven international events planned to take place in Canada, the United States, Germany, Australia, and France.
More information here:

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Photo by Forest and Kim Starr

GMO Moratorium, Land Claims, and Oil Prices

This week on Terra Informa, stories from Ontario and the Andes about Indigenous-led shake-ups of land. First, we dig into the reasons Peru’s Indigenous farmers helped push for a national moratorium on GM crops. Then we’ve unearthed the latest update on long-running Algonquin land claim negotiations in Ontario. Finally, it’s the crude, dude: This week’s Ecobabble splashes cold water on the myth of a single global price for a barrel of oil.

GMO Moratorium, Land Claims, and Oil Prices

Farmers sharing potatoes in Peru’s Potato Park [Photo:]

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GMO Moratorium in Peru

Peru: it’s where you get your coffee, your maise, and your potatoes. You’ll be able to eat and drink your Peruvian products feeling a little better after listening to this next interview. At the end of 2012, the Peruvian government passed a ten year moratorium on GMO products coming in and out of the country in an effort to preserve indigenous agriculture and biodiversity.Terra Informa’s Nicole Wiart spoke with Marc Griebel, the communications coordinator for the Indigenous Peoples’ Biocultural Climate Change Assessment Initiative. Marc explores the reasons for the moratorium and the international affect he hopes to see in the future, specifically in Canada. Marc was born and raised on a family farm in rural Alberta, and is currently completing his thesis on biocultural heritage. We reached him in Cusco, Peru at the Potato Park.

More information: IPCCA resources on other international environmental movements lead by Indigenous people, ANDES Potato Park

Land in Ontario Under Algonquin Land Claim 
Beautiful lakes, full lush forests, and a place to call home for many families. It’s hard to believe that such vast land has been in the midst of negotiations for many years. In 1983, the Algonquins of Golden Lake, Ontario presented to the government of Canada a claim to Aboriginal rights  and a portion of the Ottawa and Mattawa river watersheds. The claim contend that the Algonquins have continuing ownership of 8.9 million acres of historical land. Following a legal and historical review of the Algonquin claim,Ontario agreed to enter into negotiations with the Algonquin’s in 1991. Since then there have been many changes to the negotiations. To further explain, Sam Piercey spoke to Government of Ontario representative CB Pappin.

Ecobabble: The Price of a Barrel of Oil
You probably hear it so often you don’t even think twice about it: The price of a barrel of oil. There’s a global price, and it goes up and down, and cable news guests rant about it. Well, to understand some of the biggest industrial projects in North America right now, you have to let go of that idea. Chris Chang-Yen Phillips has more, with this week’s Ecobabble.

More information: What the Glut? Why Cushing is Bursting and Hurting Oklahoma’s Economy (NPR)CBC Radio’s This is That parody on Alberta oil planesWhat the Brent/WTI oil price spread tells us (Wall Street Journal)

Updrafts and Uprisings

Updrafts and Uprisings

Northern Saw-Whet Owl photographed by Rick Leche

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Girl Gone Wild: Owls

This week, Chris Chang-Yen Phillips is up in a tree with Jamie Pratt, creator of the Girl Gone Wild documentary series. They’re investigating – hoo else? — Alberta’s owl species. Listen in to hear owl calls, the dark symbolism of putting an owl on your barn door, and the shocking truth about Harry Potter’s pet owl Hedwig.

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Idle No More

From round-dance flash mobs in front of the Prime Minister House, and West Edmonton Mall, road blockades, and rallies across the country, Idle No More has been called a movement, an awakening…..
It has been called the largest, most unified, and potentially most transformative Indigenous movement at least since the Oka resistance in 1990.

Terra Informa’s Chris Chang-Yen Phillips and Kathryn Lennon bring us some interviews from Idle No More in Edmonton, on December 21st, 2012.

Great Backyard Bird Count

Whether you live in the heart of the city, out in the country, or on the Arctic coast, birds bring a little sunshine into the winter months. Every February, bird watchers team up for one of North America’s largest bird counts, but this isn’t an event that’s limited to professionals. From seasoned experts to novices, Canadians are breaking out the binoculars to help scientists better understand where birds are found and how their distributions change with time. Dick Cannings is one of the organizers of the Great Backyard Bird Count. Back in February, Steve Andersen called Dick to ask him how it works.

Wet’suwet’en and the Pacific Trails Pipeline, Peat Moss and Media Independence

On this week’s episode, Terra Informa speaks to Toghestiy, hereditary chief of the Likhts’amisyu Clan of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, about Wet’suwet’en resistance to pipelines in their territories. In the second part of the program we investigate the challenges and downfalls of using peat moss in backyard gardens. Finally, from the archives, Terra Informa speaks with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! about the importance of independent media.

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No Pipelines Banner on Talbits Kwah Wedzin Kwah, from

News Headlines
Gannets Absent in Newfoundland and Labrador

An unusual phenomenon is taking place in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Biologist Bill Montevecchi says that gannets who normally nest at Cape St. Mary’s have left their nests and chicks for food further north. Montevecchi says he has never seen anything similar in his life. Cape St. Mary’s is empty of gannets, but there have been plenty of sightings up in Labrador. Water temperatures are apparently 3 or 4 degrees warmer than usual. It is not clear whether the gannets have permanently abandoned the nests or not, but their absence makes the nests and chicks vulnerable to the elements and starvation.
More on this story:, The Tyee

Southern Leg of Keystone XL Pipeline Encounters Opposition

TransCanada had hoped to quietly begin construction of the southern Keystone XL pipeline. According to their spokeswoman who talked to the LA times, construction began on August 9th. The Tar Sands Blockade, a self-described coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and organizers unfurled banners at two equipment staging grounds in Texas and Oklahoma. The group plans to use nonviolent direct action to physically stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. TransCanada has agreed to reroute the northern section of the pipeline as the current plan has it would go through sensitive aquifers and requires international permits due to its proximity to the Canadian border. If US officials approve the northern stretch, construction could begin as early as 2013. The pipeline project faces enormous controversy in the United States and Canada.
More on this story: LA Times, Ecowatch, Yale Environment 360

3000 Federal Environmental Assessments Cancelled
Businesses hoping to build or expand marinas, coal plants, and gravel pits without environmental reviews will find their job a little easier this fall.Those are some of the 3000 projects that will no longer get reviewed by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. Across every province and territory, the agency has been forced to cancel hundreds of environmental assessments because of the federal government’s budget legislation this summer.
More on this story:
Montreal Gazette, Vancouver Sun, Victoria Times Colonist
Leak of the Week
This week saw another pipeline leak in Alberta, this time 10 kilometres east of Red Deer on a line belonging to Penn West Exploration. The company estimates that over three hundred thousand litres of, what industry terms, ‘produced water’ leaked onto a canola field Tuesday. Produced water is water that travels up well heads along with oil. It can contain high levels of salt. According to licensing documents obtained by CBC, the line was carrying produced water containing three per cent oil.
More on this story: CTV, CBC, Regina Leader-Post
Pacific Trails Pipeline and Wet’suwet’en Territories

The Pacific Trails Pipeline is proposed to run through Wet’suwet’en territories. This includes salmon spawning grounds. In this interview, Toghestiy, hereditary chief of the Likhts’amisyu Clan of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, speaks with Terra Informa correspondent Annie Banks. Toghesti describes Free Prior Informed Consent, the Pacific Trails Pipeline, the recent Unis’tot’en Action Camp and the resistance by the Wet’suwet’en people to the invasion of their lands by industry.
More on this story: Unis’tot’en Action Camp, We Support the Unist’ot’en and the Wet’suwet’en Grassroots Movement – Facebook Group

Reconsidering Peat Moss
When most of us plant our gardens in the spring, we have an idea of what we want to do to the dirt. Turn over the soil, add a little compost, maybe some mulch…and of course, peat moss. But does peat moss do everything we think it does?
And is it as sustainable as we think? With the help of Laura Edwards, University of Alberta ecology student, and recent Shoreline Advisor for Nature Alberta’s Living by Water program, Chris Chang-Yen Phillips went out into his garden to investigate.
More on this story: Ecoscience Journal (PDF), Hydrological Processes Journal

From the Archives – Amy Goodman on Independent Media

In November 2011, Terra Informa correspondent Myles Curry caught up with American broadcast journalist, syndicated columnist and investigative reporter, Amy Goodman. She is the host of the popular independent news show Democracy Now. Myles asked her what media independence means for environmental reporting.
More on this story: Democracy Now!

What’s Happening

Mushrooms on the Moraine: the Late Summer edition, will be happening on Saturday September 08, from 09 : 30 AM – 05 : 00 PM at Koffler Scientific Reserve at Jokers Hill courtesy of the University of Toronto. This workshop will help you identify many of the wild mushroom species growing early in fall. Hosted by mushroom expert Richard Aaron, the focus will be on fungal diversity, with some mention of edible and medicinal properties.

Take Back the Wild Advocacy School:Want to protect British Columbia’s wilderness? Think you have what it takes to be a leader?You may be interested in the Take Back the Wild Advocacy Training Weekend, October 12 to 14.The Advocacy School is being offered by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s BC Chapter for 18 to 30-year olds. You’ll learn about government and media relations, endangered ecosystems, and some of the campaigns already underway in BC. Apply before September 13: