Some of the people most affected by the massive oil sands project in Alberta are coming to Montana to help organize protests against an Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil plan that would send massive trucks through that state on their way to those oil sands.
As Marty Cobenais, an activist for the Indigenous Environmental Network tells Missoulian (Mont.) reporter Kim Briggeman here, it’s like war.
“You know the old military strategy of cutting off the supply chain?” says Cobenais:
He’s one of three people who’ll be in Missoula on Wednesday evening to present the ugly side of bitumen mining in Alberta as the “big rig” flap in western Montana shifts to a higher gear and a broader realm.
A free screening of the 75-minute documentary “H2Oil” is set for 6 p.m. at the Roxy Theater to kick off what organizers have titled “A Walk Through the Tar Sands.”
It’ll be, according to the group, “a night of firsthand accounts regarding the most destructive industrial project on the face of the planet.” Presentations will follow the film by Cobenais, of Minnesota; George Poitras, former chief of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, which is downstream from the oil fields in Alberta; and Simon Reece, a youth from Fort McMurray, Alberta, with the Fort McKay First Nation.
Other events include Saturday’s presentation on the Flathead Indian Reservation by the Grammy Award-winning Indigo Girls. They’ll be part of a panel discussion, moderated by Native American activist Winona LaDuke, that will focus on Native environmental issues. And, Eriel Deranger, who is Athabasca Chipewyan from northern Alberta, will talk about the impact of the tar sands.
The discussion, “Environmental Justice in Montana: Protecting the Land for Future Generations” starts at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Johnny Arlee/Victor Charlo Theatre at the Salish Kootenai College.
The focus on Montana comes because “Montana is considering collaborating to some degree in terms of tar sands production here … whether it’s heavy-truck hauling in Montana or pipelines that are running through their traditional lands that are coming from the tar sands,” says George Poitras.
Poitras is a former chief of the Mikisew Cree, the largest of five First Nations directly affected by tar/oil sands mining, and is traveling the world talking about the vast mining project and its effect on his people, who he says suffer unusually high rates of cancer.
Tags: Alberta oil sands, Alberta tar sands, Athabasca Chipewyan, buffalo post, ExxonMobil, Flathead Indian Reservation, Fort McKay First Nation, Gwen Florio, Imperial Oil, indigenous, Indigenous Environmental Network, Indigo Girls, Mikisew Cree First Nation, Montana big rigs, Native American news, Salish Kootenai College, Winona LaDuke