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article imageFirst ever 'Tar Sands Healing Walk' voices of concerned citizens Special

By Kyle Ashmead     Aug 15, 2010 in Environment
Fort Mcmurray - A "Tar Sand Healing Walk" was held in Fort MacMurray, AB, Canada on August 14th, 2010. It's the the first of its kind in the tar sands region of Alberta.
The walk, which was eight miles, started at the Suncor Crane Lake rehabilitated area, circling past Syncrude and Suncor tailings ponds and past the Syncrude complex itself, the walk ended back at the Crane Lake parking lot. The Keepers of the Water a group concerned with water issues in the area was the main organizer for the event. The walk went off without a hitch and was considered a huge success by all of those involved. The walks eight miles seemed much longer with a dusty wind blowing in the face of the walkers off dry areas of the tailings ponds. More than one hundred people took part in the walk, including the elderly, some who were in their eighties and the youth some of them babies still carried in their mothers arms.
The morning started with a traditional pipe ceremony at the Lions Club Park in down town Fort MacMurray, before people drove north on Highway 63 for the walk. Once at the Crane lake Rehabilitated Area traditional native prayers were given. As the prayer came to a close there appeared on the slope behind us a mature black bear, moments later a bald eagle circled next to us overtop the road we were about to walk down. The walkers stopped at different points throughout the walk in each of the four directions for drumming and praying, which also gave people a chance to catch their breath on what was a very long walk.
“When I was a young girl my people picked blueberries where these tailing ponds are, what is left for the people of this area?” native elder
Tantoo Cardinal, a well known actress (Dances with Wolves, Legends of the Fall) who grew up in Anzac, AB, Canada, spoke compassionately of understanding the pain in the hearts of her people, over the destruction of their homeland.
A heavy police presence along the road helped to slow the traffic before it reached the long line of walkers, which at times stretched close to a kilometer. There were twelve police cars in all. There was also a large amount of private corporate security present, more than one might expect on a regular day in Canada’s Tar sands.
Community support was large with many friendly waves and honks from truckers and motorists passing the walkers. The walks warm reception in response to the placards carried by walkers stating, “STOP THE DESTRUCTION –START THE HEALING” was seen as a huge success by the organizers. The walk was peaceful with aboriginals, environmentalists and other people who wanted to walk together in solidarity for the healing of the devastated region of the tarsands mining.
More about Athabasca, Healing walk, Tar sands
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