On this week’s Terra Informa, first we will be focusing on the anti-fracking longhouse issue in New Brunswick through Ron Tremblay’s narrative. Then we will look at the problem of sardine fishery depression on the west coast. Afterwards, we will turn to Charles Wilkonson’s latest documentary film, Oil Sands Karaoke and what it tells us about how Canadians are dealing with the oil industry.
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.Download this week’s episode.
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.
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 planes, What the Brent/WTI oil price spread tells us (Wall Street Journal)
This week on Terra Informa, we are re-airing the second part of our two part radio documentary ‘Rough Waters & Divided Valleys: Voices from the route of the Northern Gateway Pipeline’.
In the summer of 2011, members of Terra Informa set out on a journey to follow the path of the proposed Northern Gateway from its starting point in Edmonton to its terminus in Kitimat, on the coast of British Columbia. Here is part two of the radio documentary: Rough Waters & Divide Valleys: Voices from the Route of the Northern Gateway Pipeline.This week, from December 10-17, the Joint Review Panel conducting the review of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Project will continue with the hearings in Prince Rupert, British Columbia. The hearings will then continue on 4 February 2013 with 10 weeks scheduled in February, March, April and May. The hearings will be broadcast live (in English and French) over the Panel’s website.The Panel anticipates Final Argument (written and oral) to take place from mid-May to late June 2013.
What are your thoughts on the NGP? We’d love to hear from you.
Enbridge Northern Gateway Project Review Panel: http://gatewaypanel.review-examen.gc.ca/clf-nsi/hm-eng.html
For more on the Northern Gateway Proposal and our documentary, including FAQ’s, reports on the project and bonus audio, check out our special section of the website.
This week on Terra Informa, we are re-airing the first part of our two part radio documentary ‘Rough Waters & Divided Valleys: Voices from the route of the Northern Gateway Pipeline’.
In the summer of 2011, members of Terra Informa set out on a journey to follow the path of the proposed Northern Gateway from its starting point in Edmonton to its terminus in Kitimat, on the coast of British Columbia. When we started our journey and our research, it was clear that this pipeline was going to create a storm of debate. Media coverage would be extensive, and probably influential. But we also wondered whether it would really capture the full range of thoughts and feelings held by those directly affected. This documentary is our attempt to delve a little deeper. It is the result of conversations we had over thousands of kilometers traveled, in communities with the most to gain, and the most to lose. What we found is that a seemingly simple pipeline is creating turbulence in some communities, while building solidarity in others.
For more on the Northern Gateway Proposal and our documentary, including FAQ’s, reports on the project and bonus audio, check out our special section of the website.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
Today Erin Konsmo of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network tells us about the effects of pollution on the reproductive health of First Nations communities. We’ve got a review of To the Last Drop, a film about the impact of the Athabasca tar sands on downstream communities. And to round things off we have excerpts of a talk by Lesbia Morales of the Campesino Committee of the Highlands on Mayan resistance to mining in Guatemala — mining which is done mainly by Canadian companies.
This week we’re excited to be kicking off a new segment on youth and environmental justice. I was fortunate enough to speak with Erin Konsmo of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, an organization by and for Indigenous youth that works within the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice across the United States and Canada. Oftentimes pollution is thought of as impacting the land and the water but what about the impacts that pollution, industry, contaminants and environmental degradation have on nearby communities and individuals and their sexual and reproductive health? And why is this critical for environmentalists to learn more about? What is environmental violence and how are communities defining, responding to and resisting environmental violence? Here is my interview with Erin.
More on this story: Report on “The 2nd Declaration For Health, Life and Defense of Our Lands, Rights and Future Generations” (PDF)
To The Last Drop
In our latest Green Screen Movie Review, we take a look at “To The Last Drop”, a film that focuses on the impacts that the tar sands industry is having on the downstream community of Fort Chipewyan.
More on this story: Watch “To The Last Drop” on Aljazeera’s website, read the Indigenous Environmental Network’s report “Risking Ruin: Shell’s Dangerous Developments in the Tar Sands, Arctic and Nigeria” (PDF)
On Friday, June 1, Lesbia Morales spoke to a crowded room in the Stanley Milner Library in downtown Edmonton. Morales had traveled from Guatemala to speak about Mayan resistance to mining in Guatemala, mining which is done mainly by Canadian companies. Morales is the president of the CCDA or Campesino Committee of the Highlands, and she described a recent march that took over 1,500 people from the Northeast of Guatemala to the capital city, to share their demands with the president and the press. Morales described the impacts of mining to campesino and Indigenous people in Guatemala and the numerous projects and initiatives that the Campesino Committee of the Highlands engages in.
More on this story: Listen to Lesbia Morales’ full talk
Rainbow Lake Oil Spill
An oil spill caused by a ruptured pipeline was discovered by employees of another energy company while they were flying over the site. An estimated 22 000 barrels of a mixture of oil and water have been spilled into northern Alberta’s muskeg. Some have estimated this to be the third largest oil spill in Canada’s history. The cause of the pipeline rupture is still unknown. The spill comes just less than a year after the Rainbow pipeline, owned by Plains All American Pipeline Ltd., spilled more that 28 000 barrels of oil in northern Alberta.
Lush Cosmetics Anti-Oilsands Campaign
Lush announced this week plans to turn their 44 Canadian stores into polling stations to encourage customers to vote against Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline. Enbridge’s plans calls for bitumen extracted from the oilsands to be piped across Northern B.C. before being loaded on to supertankers for refining in California and Asia. Recognizing that the Harper government supports oilsands development, Lush is now prompting customers to join Indigenous and environmental groups in trying to stop the project. Storefronts show oil spill imagery and raises the question: “Your land. Your water. Your jobs. Your choice?”
Climate Change Responsible for Collapse of Harappan Civilization
The reason for the decline and collapse of the Harappan civilization, one of the world’s earliest and least known cultures, has been discovered. The Harappans spanned what is now Pakistan and were at their height about 4000 years ago. It was an urban society with large cities, a distinctive style of writing and extensive trade that reached as far as Mesopotamia. Unlike Egypt and Mesopotamia, however, the Harappans did not attempt to develop irrigation to support agriculture. Instead, they relied on the annual monsoons, which allowed the accumulation of large agricultural surpluses — which, in turn, allowed the creation of cities. The disappearance of this once great civilization has been a mystery, until now. Scientists have discovered that there was an eastward shift of annual monsoons around 3900 years ago, which citizens of the Harappan civilization followed. Their society collapsed, and people moved eastward, living instead in small farming communities, rather than large cities. Agricultural knowledge actually grew after this move, but the civilization’s culture and writing system were forgotten.
Science Prodigy Raymond Wang
Meet Raymond Wang, a fourteen year old from Vancouver. He’s a finalist at this year’s Google Science Fair. His eureka moment? Rain hitting his roof. Wang invented a piezo-electric rooftop panel that generates electricity from wind and rain. He hopes to combine it with a flexible solar panel to generate power no matter what the weather outside. The grand prize winner at the Google Science Fair wins $50,000 and a 10-day trip to the Galápagos Islands with National Geographic Expeditions.
Part 2 Coming This Week!
On this week’s show Myles talks with a previous contributor to Terra Informa, Rebecca Rooney, whose recently published research into oil sands reclamation has gained attention in the scientific community and challenged the industry’s public claims regarding the quality of their reclamation practices. We also bring our focus to another devastating force in western Canada, the mountain pine beetle, in an interview with researcher Dr. Janice Cooke. All of this and our weekly eco-headlines will give you your fix for Canadian environmental news.
Mountain Pine Beetle
Mountain pine beetles are about the size of the head of a match. Even for an insect, they’re pretty insignificant. But their effect on forests is hard to put into words. Over the past decade they’ve turned the mountains and valleys of central BC from lush green to red, wiping out the province’s lodgepole pines for hundreds of kilometres on end. Now they’re slowly moving eastward, with the outbreak well under way in Alberta. What does this summer hold in store for Canada’s forests? And how far east will the mountain pine beetles ultimately advance? We speak with Dr. Janice Cooke for the latest on the outbreak.
Peatland & Stored Carbon Loss Due To Oilsands Reclamation Plans
This week Terra Informa correspondent Rebecca Rooney took a break from reporting on the news, and instead made some headlines of her own. Rebecca holds a PhD in wetlands ecology from the University of Alberta and is the lead author of a new scientific study on the reclamation of the Alberta oil sands. The study quantifies for the first time the changes in the ecology and ecological services offered by the areas which are to be reclaimed after mining operations are complete. Terra Informa correspondent Myles Curry met up with Dr Rooney to get a summary of what these new findings reveal about the tar sands’ cumulative impacts.