Canadian artists ante up on World Environment Day – add their voices in support of Beaver Lake Cree Nation


June 5, 2013: Some of Canada’s most renowned musicians, film makers, and cultural workers are joining forces to contribute to an international movement supporting the Beaver Lake Cree in their legal battle to stop the expansion of the tar sands.

“To violate our own constitution and the treaties that ALLOW us to be here, to strip the land of resources, and export at bargain basement prices for others to exploit is ridiculous, immoral and dangerous,” says musician and organizer Chris Brown. 

“We have every obligation legally, economically and morally to stop this outrageous procedure. The hype about growth has been a thin veneer over recklessness and greed. It’s time to promote reality. By protecting the Beaver Lake Cree, we are ultimately protecting ourselves and our planet.”

The Openhearts Society hosted the first event, which included such luminaries as Mary Margaret O’Hara, Sarah Harmer, The Bourbon Tabernacle ChoirAroarA, Jason CollettLily Frost,Luther WrightSuzanne Jarvie and many others. The artists gathered at The Piston on April 30th in Toronto for a night of music and information. The Toronto show raised $700 and is the first of many cultural events and actions to come. (For full artist listings, photos and videos, follow the links below.)

Much is at stake. Canada and Alberta have tried to have the suit kicked out of court twice: and wereunsuccessful each time. The governments are in it to win. But so is the Beaver Lake Cree Nation.  As band member Crystal Lameman has said, “Our elders remind us, you can’t drink oil and you can’t eat money.”

The Beaver Lake Cree Nation (BLCN) was compelled to sue Canada and Alberta because state-sanctioned tar sands expansion is destroying and degrading the land they rely upon, damaging pristine forests, disturbing wildlife and causing significant air and water pollution.  These developments, the largest industrial project on earth, are eroding the Beaver Lake Cree’s treaty rights and now threaten their culture and traditional way of life.  Funds generated by the concerts will go to RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs) – a non-profit assisting the BLCN in this fight. 

Climate scientist James Hansen has warned that “fully exploiting the tar sands would take us as a planet to the brink of runaway climate change.”  The BLCN legal action, based on the constitutionally guaranteed promises made in 1876 that they could hunt and trap in perpetuity, is the best chance available to stop tar sands expansion.  

The case will define the point where industrial development must be curtailed to preserve treaty rights. It will place constitutional controls on development to allow land to recover and prevent further damage to wildlife habitat.  Jack Woodward, one of Canada’s leading lawyers for First Nations rights, says, “This will be the most powerful ecological precedent set in a Canadian court. It will protect the entire ecosystem, defining the point at which the earth ‘can’t take it any more’.”

Our Aboriginal peoples will be the ones that rescue Canada from the worst effects of the tar sands, and save us from international embarrassment. It is not fair to rely on the least wealthy of our nation to stand alone on this global issue.  They have the power of their treaty to protect the planet, and we have the power of a nation to support them.

“It is World Environment Day,” stresses Chris Brown. “As a global community of artists we stand in support of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation and we invite others to join us.”
Stay tuned for more events and information. Follow links to information on upcoming events and how to get involved.  And if you are interested in joining, contact Chris Brown.


For more information, contact:

Chris Brown –

Susan Smitten, RAVEN –

Posted by Susan Smitten Wednesday Jun 05, 2013 13:27
Categories: Beaver Lake Cree, Environment | Tags:

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