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EDMONTON, Nov 25 2010--What do people from the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago and the Lutsel K'e Dene in Canada's Northwest Territories have in common? They're both facing the prospect of the destructive impacts of tar sands development.
Representatives from those and communities from the east, west, north and south are meeting in Edmonton this week to strengthen the movement against one of the most environmentally destructive projects ever undertaken. The fourth annual Everyone's Downstream conference takes place from Nov 25-28 at the University of Alberta's ETLC building.
"Canadian oil companies have established tar sands operations here, and are now looking abroad for other opportunities for extraction," said Macdonald Stainsby, coordinator of Oil Sands Truth. Stainsby just returned from visiting new and proposed tar sands developments in Trinidad and Tobago, Madagascar and Morocco.
"What we're finding is that the massive human and ecological costs of the tar sands are being multiplied as developments spread to heavily populated areas around the world," said Stainsby.
Priya Ganness-Nanton is in Edmonton from Trinidad and Tobago, and represents the Rights Action Group. She hopes to share some of the victories that the people of Trinidad and Tobago have had in shutting down damaging megaprojects, and learn more about the dangers of the tar sands and how to fight proposed developments.
"In the past few years Trinidad and Tobago was faced with the prospect of alumninum smelters, a steel mill and a man-made industrial island," said Ganness-Nanton.
"In Trinidad and Tobago, we were able to halt these disastrous projects through coordinated and progressive community resistance." She added: "Community is more than houses together in the same place; its about our relationships with each other and with the land."
Ganness-Nanton says that the only way to effectively fight megaprojects is through networking and mutual support on a massive scale.
"The Rights Action Group is here to stand in solidarity with the communities fighting against the tar sands and to add our voice to the international struggle," said Ganness-Nanton.
Everyone's downstream will also feature representatives from Utah, where the first tar sands mining operation in the lower 48 states of the USA has been approved after being delayed by statewide opposition. The UK, where popular movements are pressing the Royal Bank of Scotland to divest from the tar sands, and demand that Shell and BP shut down their tar sands developments, will also be represented.
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6pm, Thursday, Nove 25:
Everyone's Downstream kicks off with the launch of "Beyond Parts Per Million: voices from the frontlines of climate justice," a publication of the Montreal Media Co-op. A full schedule of events is available at www.everyonesdownstream.org.
11am, Friday, Nov 26:
A PRESS CONFERENCE will take place at the Parkland Institute offices: 11045 Saskatchewan Drive. Map: http://bit.ly/fFjZH4
[The Parkland Institute is not affiliated with Everyone's Downstream]
To arrange interviews, contact Maya Rolbin-Ghanie:
phone #1: (514) 831 6902
phone #2: (780) 233 4992