Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

An open letter to the Richardson Foundation re: investment in the Alberta Tar Sands

An open letter to James Richardson & Sons and the Richardson Foundation regarding investment in the Alberta Oil Sands and the damage being done to environment and health in the region and globally,

To the Richardson Family business and Foundation:
I was grateful to attend the talk of Chief Oren Lyons this week, keynote speaker for the Arthur Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice's annual Sol Kanee Lecture at the University of Manitoba. I am not sure if you were present at the event or heard what Chief Lyons had to say regarding our current global situation and the need for us the people to hold our leaders to account for the massive anthropocentric, human caused climate change that is occurring on our planet. I was surprised and somewhat confused - and commented on it during the Q & A session that followed - that the Richardson Foundation was one of the talk's sponsors, considering the Richardson Family's large investment of capital and operations in the Alberta Oil Sands project, single largest cause of why greenhouse gas emissions (ghg) in Canada have risen close to 30% in Canada since 1990 rather than being reduced the modest 6% as committed to by the state of Canada - under which I understand James Richardson &
Sons. to be incorporated - under the Kyoto Accord (those targets being modest in comparison with targeted ghg reductions in Europe of 30-70%).

So in addition to there being confusion as to why the Richardsons would on one hand be heavily investing in a major climate-change causing activity, while at the same time throwing money at a talk that illustrates the folly of us, as citizens, allowing such investments to occur, given the scientific consensus along with Aboriginal and globally-vulnerable people's witnesses to the change in climate caused by such investments...

There is also the not so small matter of the adverse environmental, which is necessarily also human, health impacts of the oil sands on, amongst others, the community of Fort Chipewyn. I trust that the below report cannot be factually refuted by the Richardson Family, and that if can be, that the Richardson Family will publicly explain to citizens, to recipients of the Foundation funds, to shareholders of its various companies and above all to the people of Fort Chipewyn themselves do so at once.

This environmental, health devastation is of great concern especially because of the stated mission of the Richardson Foundation, which speaks of "giving back to the communities in which they serve" and that as recently as 2000: "a new vision and mission statement was introduced, focused on helping create sustainable futures for registered Canadian charitable organizations in the Visual and Performing Arts, Education, Youth Initiatives and Environmental Issues."

Now excuse me if I sound confused, but is it not somewhat duplicitous that a Foundation concerned, at least nominally, about environmental issues and sustainable futures, be investing so heavily in an industry that is, if global climate models are to be believed over the few lone voices funded by Exxon Mobil to claim climate change is not being sped up by human-industrial activities, dooming all life on Earth, and especially humanity, to living in a planet whose atmosphere is so thick with ghgs so as to make live on Earth eventually an unsustainable venture?

And excuse me for wondering if the Richardson Foundation's mission statement is genuine, when its source of funds, James Richardson and Sons, is undermining its Foundation's own mission statements with its funds. Who are we to believe, The Richardson Foundation, or the Richardson Oil and Gas billions in real dollars invested in the oil sands. And most importantly, what are you to say to us, the people; to your shareholders and partners when they find out more about this duplicity; and most importantly to the Aboriginal people of Fort Chipewyn who are entitled to a healthy environment free from harm as are all people of Earth, under the Canadian Constitution, under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, under the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples - now enacted - and under the basic natural laws of Earth?

What will you say to us, who come to hear lectures sponsored by the Richardson Foundation, see your logo on the brochure, but start to wonder if the company funding it is more a menace to Canadian society than of any actual benefit, when its profits come from the devastation of our atmosphere and the dispossession of Aboriginal peoples of their homelands, their livelihoods, and of their health?

I await your urgent reply, and withdraw sending this email to 1000 people, including multiple forms of non-corporate media, pending your response. By December I should be less patient.

Yours in Urgency, Disappointment, Disillusion, and Confusion.
Alon Weinberg
Winnipeg, MB

ps. I attach below your website's mission statement in case it is not fresh in your minds, along with your statements of investment in oil and gas, and the article that speaks of the ill effects of your Albertan investments on the indigenous folk of N. Alberta.

James Richardson & Sons, Limited has been actively involved in Canada's oil and gas industry, playing a significant role in harvesting the abundance of available resources in an environmentally responsible way. Former affiliate, Marine Pipeline of Canada Limited, built both the first 42-inch pipeline in Canada and the first commercial natural gas pipeline north of the 60th parallel. In turn, Tundra Oil & Gas Limited pioneered the use of three-dimensional seismic and horizontal drilling in its home Province of Manitoba. With over 400 producing oil wells in the Williston Basin of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and North Dakota, Tundra is a strong example of a specialty niche player continuing to find new oil pools by using the latest technology.
Driven by a desire to participate in the next generation of Canada's oil development, James Richardson & Sons, Limited is one of the originating investors in a $5 billion oil sands mine North of Fort McMurray, Alberta, known as Muskeg River.

"...In 2000, this entity was renamed the Richardson Foundation and a new vision and mission statement was introduced, focused on helping create sustainable futures for registered Canadian charitable organizations in the Visual and Performing Arts, Education, Youth Initiatives and Environmental Issues..."

Canadian village calls for end to oil sand projects

Thu Nov 8, 2007 6:41pm EST
By Scott Haggett

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