We are a small team of artists, activists, and storytellers that pilgrimaged by bicycle to the open-pit tar sands near Fort McMurray in Alberta August 15 to September 8, 2015.
While on our journey we met and interviewed the people most affected by the environmental degradation — and particularly connected with the First Nations who have been fighting most directly against the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline. We have been exploring how we are all connected to the tar sands, both near and far.
We realize that there have been a good many efforts to spread awareness about the tar sands and indigenous rights in Canada, but it seems like few of those have done much to connect both of those issues to the outside world.
Geographically, we have been exploring how close we live to the tar sands by getting there under our own power. This presents its own set of challenges, but those aside, the distance is not that long; For us, Fort McMurray is as far away as San Francisco, CA which is considered a neighboring city.
Mentally and spiritually, we hope to forge a connection in people’s minds between the tar sands and the Keystone XL pipeline. Relatively few people for example, seem to realize that the tar sands are the supplier of the Keystone XL pipeline, and in turn don’t understand how our own choices around oil directly affect the everyday lives of people living around the tar sands. For many, the tar sands are a disembodied issue if they’re aware of it at all; It’s something happening a world away.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for reading this, and with luck we hope to meet you in person, or virtually as we journey towards a more whole understanding of the Tar Sands and our role in it’s continued existence.
The Road to Athabasca Team
Phil, Derek, Erika, Heather, Amanda