Posted: 07/12/2012 3:17 pm
M Rocky Kistner
In Canada's western province of Alberta, Melina Laboucan-Massimo’s community—the Lubicon Lake Nation—has endured a withering toxic tar sands oil assault, an Armageddon against nature few Americans are fully aware of. Here in the once pristine sub-Arctic, tar sands mining operations level vast swaths of boreal forests near native lands, as pipelines burst and spew corrosive chemical-laced tar sands oil into rivers and lakes.
The Lubicon are used to living in harmony with nature. But tar sands mining has brought a deadly discordance to their environment. Melina has watched family and friends battle unheard of cancers and respiratory ailments; she's listened to local fishermen and hunters complain about unusual lesions and tumors festering in their catches and prey. She's reacted in disbelief as her government has sponsored airborne sharpshooters to gun down mighty Canadian wolf packs—a zero sum game that is killing one species to try to save another—as dwindling herds of caribou flee their disappearing forest homes and may be gone forever in the not so distant future.
For members of the Lubicon Lake Nation, it is a nightmare of Kafkaesque proportions. Their verdant land of abundant wildlife is metastasizing into pock-marketed battlefields of a thousand Verduns. Melina and other community leaders have not sat idly by as the environmental carnage unfolds around them. She has testified before Congress, spearheaded Greenpeace protest actions, and worked tirelessly to get the word out about the devastation in her community.
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