Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

First Nations take tar sands concerns to U. K.

First Nations take oilsands concerns to U. K.


<>By Hanneke Brooymans, Edmonton JournalAugust 28, 2009

Three First Nations people from northern Alberta are in London,
protesting the involvement of United Kingdom companies in oilsands

Residents of Fort Chipewyan are especially concerned about some types of
cancer in their communities.

"Because of the people in my community dying and being sick, that's not
motivation, that's an obligation on my behalf to go out and spread the
word," said Lionel Lepine, a 31-year-old member of the Athabasca
Chipewyan First Nation.

"At first, it started as a provincial-awareness type of thing. Then we
got the awareness spread right across Canada. And now we're taking this
awareness international."

Lepine is accompanied by George Poitras, of the Mikisew Cree First
Nation, and Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, also of the Athabasca Chipewyan.

All five will be attending the climate action camp taking place on a
patch of common land in London called Blackheath. This location has a
history of protest and dissent that dates back to the 14th century, said
Jess Worth, a United Kingdom communications organizer for activist groups.

About 1,500 people from around the U. K. will camp there from Aug. 27 to
Sept. 2, holding workshops on topics such as climate science, carbon
trading, and activist tactics.

"We decided to camp in London because we want to make the links between
the economic crisis and the climate crisis, and we believe both are
being driven by the banks and the corporations and the government, which
have their headquarters in London," Worth said.

People in the U. K. don't know anything about the oilsands, even though
they're one of the most destructive projects in the world, she said.

"So if we're going to try to end investment in the tarsands, we can't
just work in Canada, we've got to work in the U. K as well."

Worth said that means putting pressure on oil companies such as BP and
the Royal Bank of Scotland.

"The tarsands are happening in Canada but they're very much being driven
in London."

The Canadian delegation is trying to raise awareness about the oilsands,
the scale of the project and the climate implications, and it should
start getting action taken against the companies involved, Worth said.

BP Canada declined to comment, directing a request to their London
office, which could not be reached.

Poitras said there are a lot of foreign companies involved in oilsands
development. "I think the fact we do come to these countries and raise
awareness, informs people about the issues and concerns that are not
readily made available by the governments of Alberta or Canada in their
promotion of the tarsands internationally," he said.

The Canada West Foundation, which tracks the message going out about
oilsands development in traditional and Internet media, *noted that
environmental coverage of the oilsands in July was overwhelmingly negative.*


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