Alberta Activists Join Tar Sands Bloc at People’s Climate March

by: People’s Climate March | Press Release | September 21, 2014

For Immediate Release: Contact: Gabby Brown [email protected]
September 10, 2014

Members of Alberta First Nations will join activists from across the continent to tell world leaders: “We will not stop fighting until we’ve stopped tar sands at the source.”

New York, NY – As tens of thousands of people gather in New York City on September 21st for the largest demonstration for climate action in history, activists representing communities threatened by tar sands mining will join activists from across North America to march as a “Tar Sands Bloc” dedicated to voicing their opposition to expansion of dirty, carbon-intensive tar sands and calling for a moratorium on dangerous tar sands projects.

Tar sands extraction projects wreak havoc on the air, water, public health, and safety of local communities, and have contributed to dramatically increased rates of cancer among indigenous communities near tar sands mining operations.

Among the activists coming together as part of the Bloc are Crystal Lameman, Melina Laboucan-Massimo, and Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, all longtime advocates on behalf of Alberta First Nations. Crystal, a member of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation, is a Climate & Energy Campaigner with Sierra Club of Canada and a fellow of the Indigenous Environmental Network who has fought for years to protect her land, water and culture.

“By recklessly authorizing tar sands projects without any real regard for the rights of Beaver Lake and other Treaty Nations, the Government of Canada has imposed environmental racism on First Nations people and threatened our Treaty rights and our inherent right to sustain ourselves. They threaten to destroy the First Nations people’s way of life and the land that has sustained us for centuries,” she said. “As First Nations people, we abide by natural law, and there is nothing natural about a people dying from cancer and suffering from respiratory illnesses.”

Eriel Tchekwie Deranger is a Dene Indigenous activist and member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) of Northern Alberta, Canada, whose work for the ACFN focuses on creating greater awareness about the negative climate, human and Indigenous rights impacts of the Alberta Tar Sands while demanding that all levels government and the private sector fully recognize and implement the unique Indigenous rights her people hold as describe by Treaty 8 and the United Nation Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples. The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation is most notable for suing Shell Canada for unmet past Tar Sands Impact Benefit agreements as well as challenging Shell’s application for permits to expand and build new tar sands projects in Northern Alberta.

Melina Laboucan-Massimo is from Northern Alberta and a member of the Lubicon Cree First Nation, and has worked for the last seven years as an advocate for Indigenous rights and in the fight against unabated tar sands extraction and expansion as a Climate & Energy campaigner with Greenpeace in Alberta as well as with the Indigenous Environmental Network internationally.

Crystal, Melina, and Eriel will be joined by hundreds of other advocates raising their voices against tar sands on behalf of threatened communities in Alberta, as well as thousands more from across Canada and the United States fighting to protect their communities from tar sands. “We are marching to make sure world leaders hear the voices of communities whose health, safety, and livelihoods are on the line,” said Melina. “It is not morally acceptable to sacrifice communities to feed our addiction to oil. Instead we need to see real solutions and action on climate change. We want world leaders to know that we will not stop fighting until we’ve stopped tar sands at the source.”

To schedule interviews with Crystal, Melina, or Eriel, or other representatives from the Tar Sands Bloc of the People’s Climate March, contact Gabby Brown at [email protected]

For more information about the bloc, visit http://peoplesclimate.org/tarsandsbloc/

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