natural disasters

Faith, Floods and Frostbite

Winter in Edmonton: The Highlevel Bridge

Winter in Edmonton: The Highlevel Bridge (Photo Credit: M. Folkmann)

This week, we hear from faith-based organizations about why they’re so active in the climate justice movement. We also learn what lessons and techniques reporters need when a natural disaster strikes—disasters like the massive flooding that hit Calgary last summer. Finally, two short stories exploring wintery themes: discover frostbite’s sway on history and what makes snowflakes unique.

Update: this episode was remixed with new content on Tuesday, 11 February 2014 at 9 pm MST.

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Haiyan Hits Close to Home, and Chris Hadfield Comes Back to Earth

Albert Ramos speaks with Terra Informa's Jessica Kozlowski

Albert Remus Rosana tells Terra Informa about the Philippines’ evolving experience with typhoons like Haiyan (Photo: Trevor Chow-Fraser)

This week on the show, we have a story that expresses the reality of our changing way of life on this planet, and a story that takes us to a place away from that. A native of the Philippines, now residing in Alberta, tells us about what makes Typhoon Haiyan so deadly and at the same time part of a pattern. Then, Commander Chris Hadfield takes us to realms most can only visit in their imaginations.

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Exposed

This week on Terra Informa, stories about being exposed – on your bike and where you live. Musician Ben Caplan walks us through how organized Halifax’s naked bike ride. Then, Calgary resident Tamara Lee tells us about the surprising bonds revealed by the floods that devastated her neighbourhood in June.

Nearly-naked cyclists zoom by in Albany, NY

The World Naked Bike Ride is celebrated in many different cities, as Halifax organizer Ben Caplan tells us on this week’s show (Photo credit: Sebastien Barre)

Download this week’s episode.

How To Ride A Bike Naked (with lots of other people)

Ben Caplan is a singer-songwriter hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia. A few years back, he helped organize a local event for World Naked Bike Ride. Since you really only want to do this sort of thing in the heat of summer, Trevor Chow-Fraser asked Ben to help put together a little how-to guide for hosting a Naked Bike Ride in your town. More Info

How To Put a City Back Together

Sometimes being exposed is really obvious, like when you’re riding naked on a bike. But sometimes we uncover things you can’t really see — you can only feel. Terra Informa’s Chris Chang-Yen Phillips was in Calgary recently, and was thinking about the Sunnyside neighbourhood, where he has some family history. It experienced some of the worst flooding during the disaster in June, and most people had only hours to evacuate their homes. He stopped at one home with a tiny library on their front lawn, and met Sunnyside resident Tamara Lee. On top of maintaining the Pooh Corner Little Free Library, she’s a bit of a community hub, and she’s helped organize the Bow to Bluff citizen-led development process in the neighbourhood, which recently won the the Canadian Institute of Planners national Innovation Award for 2013. But she had no idea how quickly and how high the river would rise in her area, and she had no idea how strongly the city would rally together in the days to come.

More info:

What’s Happening

Next Up Applications

Next Up out of Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, and Saskatoon is calling for applications into it’s 2013-2014 program. Next Up fuels young people committed to social and environmental justice. Application deadlines are coming up in September, so if you want to be part of this life-changing leadership program, head to nextup.ca.

More info:

Flood Relief Concert

On August 15, some home-grown Albertan talent are coming together to fundraise for flood relief efforts in southern Alberta. The line up for Alberta Flood Aid includes Nickelback, Jann Arden, Corb Lund, and Loverboy. It will be held at McMahon Stadium in Calgary. Tickets are $30, $50 and $100.

Heritage Festival

It’s heritage festival time again in Edmonton. Starting August 3rd, William Hawrelak Park hosts a 3 day showcase of Canada’s vibrant multicultural community. Food, dance music, crafts, and more.

Terra Informa Live Show – Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Edmonton listeners, Terra Informa has a treat for you! On Thursday, August 1, we’re hosting Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, a LIVE show. You’re not going to want to miss an hour of interviews, poems, and songs all centered around religion and the environment. It’s taking place at St. John’s Institute at 7 pm, refreshments included — and it’s FREE! Check out our website or FaceBook page for more details.

Farm Workers’ Rights, Hurricane Sandy and Community Solar Power

This week, Terra Informa is all about power: Hear from Canadian and Latin American migrant agricultural workers trying to raise their power on Canada’s farms, Terra Informa veteran David Kaczan on Hurricane Sandy’s power, and a community solar power co-op starting up in Ontario.

Waves break on the shore behind a house.

Hurricane Sandy washes up on the shore at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina [Photo credit: County of Dare]

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Food Secure Canada panel on migrant workers’ rights

For the last two weeks, community organizers from Latin America and Canada have been on a speaking tour to raise awareness of the struggles for migrant workers’ rights. Terra Informa correspondent Annie Banks recorded the tour’s concluding panel at the Food Secure Canada conference in Edmonton, Alberta, on Treaty 6 Territories. It was called “Breaking the Silent Harvest: Experiences of Agricultural Migrant Workers in Canada.” Annie spoke with Jose Sicajau and Juan Luis Carbajal.

Listen to the full-length story:

More information: Students Against Migrant ExploitationJust work? A special Inter Pares campaign in solidarity for migrant workers’ rights, Project Counselling ServiceEntrenching Exploitation: Second Rept of AFL Temporary Foreign Worker Advocate (Alberta Federation of Labour)

Hurricane Sandy Report from North Carolina

Long-time listeners may have missed the gentle rumble of David Kaczan’s voice. He was a correspondent on our show for a long time, but he’s since moved on to pursue a PhD in environmental economics in Durham, North Carolina. When Hurricane Sandy just pummelled the East Coast, we couldn’t resist calling him up to get his take on the response in the US.

More information: Businessweek, Charlotte Observer, ChapelBoro

Northumberland Power Co-op

Using the power of community to power communities. A group of residents in Northumberland County, Ontario has come together to found a community power co-operative that will own and manage solar panels on area rooftops. They hope their initiative will increase the supply of renewable energy in the power grid and bring investment to the local economy. We reached the cooperative’s secretary, Rich Tyssen, in Cobourg, ON.

More information: APPrO Magazine, Financial PostGuelph MercuryGrist Magazine, Northumberland Today

What’s Happening

Film Screening: The Carbon Rush
On November 6, the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto is featuring The Carbon Rush—a gripping documentary that takes a hard look at the business of carbon trading through the eyes of those directly affected by it. This event is brought to you by Cinema Politica at The Bloor and the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition. The film’s director, Amy Miller will be attending. The show starts at 6:45 PM.
More information: Cinema Politica

Seed and Food Events
The Unitarian Service Committee of Canada is teaming up with event organizers across the across the country to bring you for hands-on seed and food events:

2012 ECOSGN Seed Symposium
On November 9-11, the Eastern Canadian Organic Seed Growers Network will host a symposium at Montreal’s Centennial Center. Enjoy courses and workshops on seed growing and cleaning, a talk on seed security, and a field trip to an organic farm.
More information: Seeds of Diversity

BC Seeds Gathering
Also on November 9-11, BC Seeds is hosting a conference at Kwantlen University in Richmond. Join seed growers, savers, and activists in deciding how to improve the quality and quantity of locally grown seed. You can even bring you seeds to clean and test different cleaning equipment.
More information: BC Seeds

Harvest and Hunger: Who Controls Our Food?
The Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation is hosting the Harvest and Hunger conference on November 9th and 10th. Learn about Saskatchewan’s connection to the global food system, and what’s being done to create fairer, more sustainable food systems. This event will take place at the Mayfair United Church.
More information: Eventbrite, SCIC

Cosmetics Company Fights Big Oil & Tsunami Debris Tells a Story

This week’s show takes us from the coasts of British Columbia to Japan, then inland to Alberta and back again. The shorelines of British Columbia are the destination point for debris from Japan’s 2011 tsunami, and they are also the destination point for Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline project. We hear about a project the Maritime Museum of British Columbia in Victoria has undertaken to collect tsunami debris. We also hear about how LUSH, a cosmetic company, has partnered with the Dogwood Initiative, an advocacy group, to draw attention to how the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline will impact Canadians.

Download this week’s show.

The No Tankers Campaign “Polling Station” at the LUSH store, on Whyte Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta

Tsunami Debris Tells a Story

When the 2011 tsunami struck the coast of Japan, many people lost their homes, their belongings, and their lives. Some of those objects, though, are beginning to surface an ocean away. Debris from the tsunami is showing up on North American beaches from Haida Gwaii to Oregon. Victoria’s Maritime Museum of British Columbia has stared a website to let users post photographs of the debris. Terra Informa’s Chris Chang-Yen Phillips spoke to the project’s coordinator, Linda Funk.

Read more: Maritime Museum of BC Tsunami Debris Facebook page, Times Colonist.

LUSH – No Tankers Campaign

A few weeks ago, Terra Informa launched our radio documentary on the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project. This week, we ask, what does a conversation about the pipeline how to do with a cosmetics company and a campaign?  LUSH is a Vancouver-based company that produces natural bath and body products. From May 29 to June 10 it engaged customers in stores across Canada in conversations about the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline. The campaign is in partnership with the Dogwood Initiative, a Victoria-based public interest group.  Terra Informa correspondent Kathryn Lennon sets out to find out how a business and an advocacy group are working together. She speaks to Emma Gilchrist of the Dogwood Initiative, Brandi Hall of LUSH, and Shannon, a LUSH employee in Edmonton, Alberta.

Read more: LUSH, Dogwood Initiative – No Tankers Campaign

News Headlines

Sadly, there have been so many oil spills in the recent weeks that we at Terra Informa are considering starting a regular oil spill watch. Many people and communities all across these lands are already on high-alert for oil spills and regularly inform the media of the spills they discover.

Oil Spill Near Red Deer, Alberta

In this week’s oil spill watch, the most recent oil spill that we know of has occurred in the Jackson Creek tributary of the Red Deer River in  west-central Alberta in the Treaty 7 territories of the Cree, Stoney, Blackfoot, Blood and Sarcee nations. Approximately 475,000 litres of crude oil have been spilled into Jackson Creek. The oil has also reached  the nearby Glennifer Lake and Reservoir that provides drinking water to nearby communities. The company responsible for the ruptured pipeline, Plains Midstream Canada, has responded to news of the leak by shutting down its Rangeland operations. Plains Midstream Canada, a subsidiary of Plains All American Pipeline, was also responsible for a devastating spill in April, 2011.
This spill released 4.5 million litres northeast of the Peace River region in Alberta. A school in the nearby community of Little Buffalo had to close due to reports of people getting headaches, feeling nauseous and smelling a strong petroleum odor. Oil spills into waterways are considered very serious due to the possibility of the oil spill spreading very quickly in the water.
In addition, heavy rainfall and flooding have increased the water levels in the areas where the spill occurred. Since the leak was reported on Thursday by local residents in the area, reports have continued to come in about the smell of the oil and sightings of dead wildlife.

Read more:
http://www.news1130.com/news/national/article/371456–oil-spill-shows-dangers-of-pipelines-crossing-waterways
http://www.vancouversun.com/business/energy%20resources/Pipeline+company+Plains+Midstream+reports/6751812/story.html
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/story/2012/06/08/calgary-sundre-oil-spill.html
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/alberta-hit-with-another-oil-spill/article4241238/

Vancouver Centre for Emergency Oil Spill Response Closed

The federal government is closing a British Columbia-based command centre for emergency oil spills. Located in Vancouver, on Coast Salish Territories, the office is the west coast’s only federal spill response office. As a result of the cost-cutting in the federal budget, Ottawa has said it will shut down the office and centralize operations in Quebec. Environment Minister Peter Kent’s office stated “This will not impact Canadians or the environment” and described the office’s work as not cleaning up spills but rather providing information about environmentally sensitive land and species at risk.
The closing comes at a time when pipeline operator Kinder Morgan is attempting to double its Edmonton-to-Burnaby Trans Mountain pipeline and triple its oil exports to Alberta. This would increase the number of oil tankers to at least 300 a year. Additionally, Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline proposal would mean more tanker traffic out of Kitimat, if it goes ahead.
NDP environment critic Rob Fleming stated: “Any reasonable person understands that it makes no sense to even consider major pipelines and oil tankers while closing the Pacific coast’s regional oil-spill response centre,” Fleming said.
Read more:
http://www.vancouversun.com/news/spill+centre+moving/6486163/story.html
http://www.thenorthernview.com/news/148722275.html

Tarsands Counter-Terrorism Unit Created in Alberta

The federal government has set up a counter-terrorism unit in Alberta, to protect the tar sands. This team will be led by the RCMP and will include members of CSIS, the Edmonton and Calgary police forces and federal border patrol. This will double the number of police working on so-called counter-terrorism measures in Alberta.The federal government has recently labeled certain environmental and First Nations groups as “radicals and extremists”.
A representative of the unit,  Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud, described the unit’s goal as being to look at any groups that threaten Alberta’s oil sands economy.In addition, Michaud stated that any targeted groups must have violence attached to their activities for the unit to pay attention.However, Michaud also stated, “That being said, in our role of preventing these threats from occurring, it is important that intelligence is collected against the activities of groups before they become violent.”

Read more:
http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/06/06/alberta-counter-terror-unit-set-up-to-protect-the-oil-sands-by-federal-tories/
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/ottawa-launches-alberta-counter-terrorism-unit/article4236422/
http://business.financialpost.com/2012/06/06/ottawa-sets-up-alberta-anti-terrorism-unit-to-protect-energy-industry/

UN Report Cites Climate Change as Complicating Factor in Human Migration

A UN report has recently been published that predicts an increase in the number of people displaced world-wide.“The State of the World’s Refugees” cites 26 million internally displaced people and an additional 1 million asylum seekers. UN Secretary General described the traditional drivers of displacement such as human rights abuses and conflict, are increasingly complicated now by factors such as food insecurity, water scarcity, climate change, population pressure and a growing number of people uprooted by “natural disasters”. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres says that an international debate has started over how to address the growing numbers of people forced to move due to issues such as climate change. Many people have no legal protection. Guterres stated, “Global displacement is an inherently international problem and as such needs international solutions – and by this I mean mainly political solutions.”

Read more:
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501363_162-57445141/un-report-predicts-increase-in-worlds-displaced/
http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/world/un-report-predicts-increase-in-worlds-displaced/521598

River Run 2012

Our last news story looks at recent actions in the communities of Grassy Narrows and White Dog First Nations. June 5 – 8 marked a week of actions, put on by the Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows First Nation), for the River Run 2012. Over 50 people from the  Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek have walked the 2,000 kilometres to Toronto, to raise awareness and demand justice for a series of wrongs still being ignored by the government. In the 1960s, a pulp and paper mill in Dryden, Ontario, dumped over 9,000 kilos of mercury into the Wabigoon River.  Residents have received mixed messages about whether or not to eat the fish from the river. Health Canada stopped testing for mercury years ago but Dr. Masazumi Harada, a mercury expert, has reported many continuing mercury-related health concerns for the residents of Grassy Narrows and White River First Nations. Dr. Harada reports that 44% of people born after the mill dumped its waste have been affected by mercury contamination.
Grassy Narrows Chief Simon Forbister also cites clearcutting as contributing to the damages to the local ecosystem.  The “Makade Mukwa Walk for Water” is being completed this week by a group of Indigenous Anishnabe youth.
Edmond Jack participated in the walk and said, “We are walking with a group of young people to raise awareness about chemical dumping and mercury poisoning that the government and corporations have caused over the past decades, and to keep that message strong for the next generation, to carry on that message so that people don’t forget that the water is still being poisoned.” According to the River Run 2012 organizers, participants are coming to Toronto to create a “wild river that will flow to Queen’s Park to demand long overdue justice for their people and protection for the waters and forests on which they depend.” 15,000 square feet of blue fabric will represent the river and mimic the way the river should flow in their community.  The rally demanded that the Ontario government acknowledge the extent of the mercury poisoning, apologize and clean the river. Additionally, Premier Dalton McGuinty was invited to try some local fish from the Wabigoon river.  This rally is just part of the many actions and events that the Grassy Narrows First Nation has done, in order to protect the land and the water and all that depend on them.

Read more:
http://www.cbc.ca/strombo/social-issues/first-nations-youth-walk-2000-kms-to-raise-awareness-of-mercury-poisoning.html#.T86in2oLjrU.facebook
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/two-ontario-first-nations-still-plagued-by-mercury-poisoning-report/article4230507/
http://rabble.ca/news/2012/06/week-action-justice-overdue-grassy-narrows
http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/johnbon/2012/06/mcguinty-%E2%80%98no-show%E2%80%99-grassy-narrows-fish-fry