For over a century the Lubicon Cree people of northern Alberta, Canada, have been fighting against the Canadian government to protect the 10,000 square kilometers of forests, plains, rivers and muskeg, or wetlands, they call home. Treaties have been signed and violated, construction of extractive industry manufacturing plants have invaded the territory, and millions of liters of oil have destroyed the fragile ecosystem that is the muskeg. The people who were once able to support themselves amidst the clean air, water and land that was full of animals, plants, medicines and berries have been polluted and drained, and the people are now more than ever dependent on government social services. All this is compounded by the fact that the Lubicon Cree have been unable to finalize a land claim in court, due to the Canadian government’s determination to keep the proceedings in limbo owing to the lush and varied natural resources that exist within its borders.
How many more communities have to be put at risk for this type of development, and who is really benefiting? What are we leaving to future generations? We need to shift away from a fossil fuel-based system and push for renewable energy systems that enable us to be self-sufficient and self-sustaining.