"At the fifth and final Tar Sands Healing Walk, indigenous communities living on the front-lines of bitumen extraction in Alberta came together to pray, and to lead a march through the grotesque epicentre of a continental oil project.

It may seem defeatist to pray in the face of an industrial behemoth like Alberta’s tar sands, but it is actually an incredible show of strength. As millennia old traditions, these prayers have survived smallpox epidemics, policies of starvation, religious bans, torture in state sanctioned residential schools, and massive environmental degradation at the hands of mining, oil, and gas industries. Praying in the heart of Alberta’s tar sands is a palpable act of defiance—a clear refusal to go extinct after centuries of attempted genocide.

Marching for hours, the Healing Walk passed by open-pit mines, fields of dead earth, lakes of poison called ‘tailings ponds,’ soviet-style worker villages, and hydrocarbon refineries. The air reeked of sulphur and diesel, and many participants complained about burning eyes, sore throats, metallic tastes, headaches, and nausea.”

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I made this video at the fifth and final Tar Sands Healing Walk, where indigenous communities on the front-lines of tar sands extraction lead a spiritual march through a landscape of poisonous lakes, dead earth, open-pit mines, and refineries.

If you’re ever curious about what Canada’s genocidal policies of resource extraction look like, here’s a contemporary view from the ground. The video is a little cheerier than I may have made it otherwise, but the atmosphere at the camp ground, despite everything, was also alive with life and joy. The tar sands are a defeatable industry, with anti-pipeline action and indigenous litigation already causing significant delays.

Unist’ot’en Camp stands firmly in the path of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway.

The federal government’s approval of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway is an invitation to conflict—a test of Canada’s will to inflict violence upon the environment and indigenous peoples who have, throughout much of the project’s proposed route, never surrendered their lands.

'This isn’t just a fight about pipelines. This is a fight about indigenous sovereignty, our sovereignty,' said Toghestiy.”

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Ezra Levant gave a talk on ‘Ethical Oil’ in Peace River, an oil town famous for having air so poisonous that people were forced out of their homes. While residents endure an ongoing, industrial hell, industry pats itself on the back at the Peace Oil Sands Convention and Trade Show. Photos and additional reporting by Elle Kurancid.

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Canada’s “Economic Action Plan” basically entails destroying the earth as fast as possible and trampling the rights of indigenous people. Indigenous rights - like to hunt or fish - are backed by the Canadian constitution, and remain in Canada as the last meaningful environmental protection laws after Harper’s massive legal overhaul in 2012.

The Canadian government knows that it is violating its own constitution, but it is betting that it can dig up and export the tar sands before the law catches up with it. This article looks at the many First Nations that are suing the government over their new policies and vital pieces of tar-sands infrastructure - including fracking and extraction sites and pipelines like Kinder Morgan and Line 9 - with a particular focus on the Beaver Lake Cree. The photo is of oil leases on the Beaver Lake Cree’s territories.

A long-read on VICE.com

Mayor Rob Ford isn’t worried about a cracked pipe called Line 9. Toronto City Council voted on a number of measures to gather more information on the project, and our esteemed Mayor was the lone voice voting against some of these.

Read about it on VICE.com

The air is so toxic near Peace River, Alberta, that families have been forced to abandon their homes. A corporation called the Alberta Energy Regulator, which is 100% funded by industry and chaired by a registered oil lobbyist, has issued its recommendations for how to fix the problem - though its suggestions, like burning off all emissions, may actually make matters worse. 

Read about it on VICE.com.

I wrote about Alberta Education’s decision to ask corporations what they should teach students from Kindergarten to Grade 12. Among those invited to help shape the curriculum are oil sands companies, tech giants, and textbook publishers.

Read “Reading, Writing, and Bitumen” on VICE.com

Enbridge’s Line 9 application has been approved, which is terrible news for the people of Ontario and Quebec. From my response:

"In issuing their approval, the NEB was seemingly unperturbed by Line 9’s thousands of cracks, the expert testimony of Rick Kuprewicz which pegged its risk of rupture at “over 90%,” the thirty-five times and more than 3,000,000 litres of the oil pipe has already spilled, Enbridge’s history of not following regulations, their average operating record of about 73 spills per year, and Line 9’s striking similarities to Enbridge’s Line 6B, the pipeline which ruptured millions of litres of bitumen into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River because Enbridge ignored a known defect. Almost four years after the Michigan rupture, as Line 9 is being granted a green light, it remains to be seen whether or not the Kalamazoo River will ever be cleaned up.

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I interviewed Dr. John O’Connor, a tar sands whistle-blower who continues to advocate for public health. He was the first to connect rare cancers in Fort Chipewyan to oil production in Fort Mac, and he was silenced by Health Canada for publicizing this link. Now, doctors across Alberta are afraid to speak out.

Read the interview on VICE.com