FIRST NATIONS FROM ACROSS NORTH AMERICA TAKE PART IN FIFTH AND FINAL HEALING WALK IN FORT MCMURRAY
“We’re now stronger than ever to fight tar sands development across North America.”
June 28, 2014, Fort McMurray, Alberta – First Nations from across North America took part today in the fifth and final Healing Walk in Fort McMurray, Alberta, an annual event that organizers say has achieved its ultimate purpose of building unity and alliances among First Nations impacted by tar sands development in Canada and the United States. Fort McMurray, a traditional hunting, fishing, and gathering ground, is also the centre of tar sands development. The walk offered healing prayers to the land and to build strength and unity among people impacted by tar sands development.
“First Nations communities were once scared to share their stories about tar sands impacts, but the Healing Walk has been a safe place to share knowledge so that today First Nations are stronger than ever to fight tar sands development across North America,” said Eriel Deranger, of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.
Indigenous people came from Houston, Alabama, and across Canada. First Nation leaders included the Grand Chief Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Derek Nepinak, Grand Chief Philip Stewart, Chief Allan Adam, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations, Chief Steve Courterielle, Mikisew Cree First Nation. Hundreds from nearby communities and across North America also joined the walk, including First Nations rapper Frank Waln, thirteen-year-old First Nation singer Takai Blaney and local doctor, John O’Connor.
On Friday there were a series or workshops about tar sands impacts. The recent Tsilhqot’in court case was top of mind and there were many conversations about the implications for future tar sands development.
“This is the last healing walk in the Athabasca region because it’s time to shed light on other communities impacted by tar sands,” said Jesse Cardinal, coordinator of Keepers of the Athabasca. “In order to stop the destruction, the healing has to start everywhere.”
The Healing Walk was organized by Keepers of the Athabasca, a network of First Nation, Metis and settler communities along the Athabasca River. There was a pipe ceremony before the walk, followed by a feast.
The Alberta tar sands produced approximately 1.9 million barrels of oil per day in 2012, but if industry and government’s expansion plans are approved that number could reach 5 million barrels per day by the end of 2030. This year, First Nations have witnessed the oil spill in Cold Lake, which still continues without a way to stop it. Just this week, eight experts in environmental science, policy and risk from Simon Fraser University called for a moratorium on all new tar sands development until there is a comprehensive policy-making process for energy development for North America.
For photos and video please contact
Sarbjit Kaur, 416-274-5324 firstname.lastname@example.org
Natalie Southworth, email@example.com
To talk to someone at the walk please contact:
Jesse Cardinal, Keepers of the Athabasca, (780) 404-5053
Eriel Deranger, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, (780) 903-6598
June 16, 2014 For Immediate Release
TAR SANDS HEALING WALK IN FORT McMURRAY
Walk Through Tar Sands Will Build Strength, Unity
On June 28th hundreds of First Nations people and non-native supporters from Canada and the US will be participating in the Healing Walk in Fort McMurray for the last time as they get ready for the next front in the battle to protect the land, air, water and climate and have their treaties honoured.
This will be the fifth and final walk through tar sands operations, once traditional hunting, fishing and gathering grounds, to offer healing prayers to the land and to build strength and unity among people impacted by tar sands development. In the years to follow the annual event will be held in communities dealing with the spread on in situ tar sands extraction – a less visually offensive but as equally harmful oil extraction technology.
Since, 2010 the Healing Walk has been a catalyst for bringing together First Nations grassroots and First Nations leaders in northern Alberta as well as across Canada and the US where First Nations communities are uniting because of their tar sands experiences.
Now, in 2014, more attention then ever is on the tar sands and the impact it is having on the land, air, water, and climate. First Nations are unifying in their efforts to have their treaties honoured and the depth and breadth of this opposition can be witnessed at the Healing Walk.
When: June 27th and 28th
· June 27th – Opening prayer and welcoming, work shops, music and drumming
· June 28th – Hundreds of people will walk 14 km past Syncrude and Suncor mines, tailings ponds, and upgraders. There will be prayer ceremonies followed by a feast.
· June 29th – Closing ceremony
Where: Where: Fort McMurray – see maps below for more details.
For more information visit www.healingwalk.org
Media Contact: Eriel Deranger 780-903-6598
Friday June 27th 2014
11:00 – 1:00 Opening Prayer, Welcoming, and Opening Remarks
1:00 – 3:00- Workshops
3:30pm Health Panel
Saturday June 28th 2014
9:00am Pipe Ceremony at Crane Lake
10:00am Media Panel at Crane Lake
11:00am Start Ceremonial Healing Walk led by Elders
Sunday June 29th, 2014
9:00am Pipe Ceremony
10:00am Closing Remarks