Wild Idaho Rising Tide and Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition are coordinating a carpool/caravan to Fort McMurray in northeastern Alberta, Canada, to join with First Nations elders, indigenous residents, grassroots allies, and anti-tar sands activists from across the continent and world in the Fourth Annual Tar Sands Healing Walk on Friday and Saturday, July 5 and 6. The Second Tar Sands Solidarity Journey will tentatively depart Moscow, Idaho, and Spokane, Washington, just before the Fourth of July weekend, on Wednesday morning, July 3, and return on Tuesday afternoon, July 9. This life-changing, week-long adventure offers opportunities to inexpensively provide and share food, fuel, equipment, and fees for a summer camping trip to and from the largest industrial project on Earth.
Event coordinators enthusiastically invite regional community involvement in the solidarity journey, healing walk, and local planning meetings at 7 pm on Tuesday, May 28, and at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, June 11, at The Attic, up the back stairs of 314 East Second Street in Moscow. Organizers also welcome ideas for and co-leadership of actions in the interior Northwest concurrent with the healing walk, such as Native drum circles or other demonstrations of solidarity. For further information, please visit the enclosed websites and contact Wild Idaho Rising Tide at firstname.lastname@example.org or 208-301-8039 and Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition at email@example.com or 509-339-5213, with your questions, suggestions, comments, and RSVP.
Last year, three area participants rented and drove a hybrid vehicle 300 to 400 miles per day while exploring the Canadian Rockies before arriving and gathering at a lakeshore encampment in the northern boreal forest, for healing walk presentations and conversations on Friday afternoon. On that mostly warm and sunny Saturday, we converged near bitumen ground zero, Syncrude’s Mildred Lake site. After a pipe ceremony at a park, we peacefully and spiritually walked and/or rode eight miles in transforming solidarity with hundreds of people of all ages caring for the life of the Athabasca River basin. While sharing stories, prayers, and songs with natives and settlers from around the planet, we viewed two of the largest and longest-operating tar sands facilities from our roadside path, and began to more fully understand the environmental, human rights, and land claims issues raised by the sandy landscape and dusty wind. After the successful walk, we gratefully shared an evening feast, entertainment, swimming, and campfires with our network of allies. Leaving on Sunday morning, we retraced the routes of megaloads of tar sands processing equipment, as we traversed the remotely rural and wildly scenic byways of Alberta, Montana, and Idaho. Prairie lakes and woods in southeastern Alberta and the spectacular Rocky Mountain Front in Montana sheltered two nights of camping before we traveled through the renowned Blackfoot and Clearwater river valleys.
Over the last 50 years, tar sands projects initially obtained little crude oil but now intensively surface mine and steam blast and extract from underground much heavier bitumen, one of the planet’s dirtiest oils, requiring massive amounts of energy and water to produce. As the demand for this oil continues to grow, tar sands-exploiting corporations and countries exhaust and contaminate natural resources with myriad toxins that directly affect and jeopardize human, wildlife, and environmental health. They occupy traditional territories, diminish clean groundwater, compromise safe drinking water, encourage pipeline construction and spills, and exacerbate climate change. Tar sands tailings ponds leaking into the Athabasca River and smoke stacks belching greenhouse gases carry carcinogenic pollution through communities from Fort McKay to Fort Chipewyan and Fort Smith, impacting Treaty 6, 7, 8, and 11 territories all the way to the Artic basin.
Many groups have actively engaged and educated the public, to expose this vast destruction and to promote more diversified, local economies and healthier progressions toward alternative, sustainable energy and transportation, such as distributed solar, wind, and wave power and electric vehicles. Inspired and started in 2010 to heal the people and places devastated by tar sands development, the Tar Sands Healing Walk is not a rally, march, or protest, but a respectful acknowledgment of the living beings, waters, lands, and air that are suffering due to unhealthy energy addictions. With the emergence of the Idle No More movement and the significance of four in indigenous teachings (four seasons, directions, life aspects, etc.), this year’s healing walk will hold special meaning in the experiences of all who attend. Thanks for your support and ongoing opposition to Alberta tar sands operations!
Second Tar Sands Solidarity Journey (facebook page)
Fourth Annual Tar Sands Healing Walk (website)
Fourth Annual Tar Sands Healing Walk (facebook page)
Full Version Third Annual Healing Walk (October 19, 2012, video)
August 4 Healing Walk (October 19, 2012, video)
Alberta Tar Sands: An Environmental Disaster Coming Our Way (August 24, 2012, WIRT slideshow)
Healing Walk Outcomes (August 12, 2012, WIRT Newsletter excerpt)