Opposition to the fossil fuel and extractive industries is often couched in terms of Indigenous Peoples’ connection to the land, but those fighting against Alberta oil sands development say it is a connection that we all share. So it was that several hundred people gathered in late June for the fifth and final Healing Walk, a nine-mile trek around one of the tailings ponds that dot the landscape in the massive industrial project, CBC News reported.
It was a symbolic walk, though the damage being done is anything but. Indigenous people living in and near the area of development that has been nicknamed the tar sands (for the tarlike substance known as bitumen that is extracted from the soil and shipped off to foreign oil markets) have long said that their health is compromised by the noxious chemicals emitted there. Recent studies have borne them out.
Drumming and singing, the walkers wound their way through traditional hunting and fishing grounds now tainted by the noxious chemicals that are barely contained in tailings ponds that regularly leak and leach into First Nations’ drinking water. The air hung heavy with the fumes of diesel and crude oil.
Arial views of the Alberta oil sands show an otherwordly landscape.
The video below details their journey, and the post at Upworthy—where the video went viral, garnering more than six million hits—includes a transcript.