Meet Melina Laboucan Massimo.
Melina is an Indigenous and environmental activist from the Lubicon Cree in Northern Alberta. Since 2009 Melina has been working as an oil sands campaigner for Greenpeace Canada.
Having grown up in the oil sands region, Melina knows the reality of the oil sands too well. She has seen first-hand the impacts of oil sands development on her Nation’s people, culture, and land. She now spends most of her days traveling inside Canada and around the world to share her family’s stories with a larger audience.
The Canadian government has granted almost 1400 square kilometers of leases for development on Lubicon lands, and almost 70 percent of Lubicon territory has been leased for future development. These developments have taken place without consent by the Lubicon people—and in direct violation of their treaty and international human rights. Indeed, in 2005, the United Nations Human Rights Committee found that Canada is violating the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in regards to its treatment of the Lubicon people.
Melina says so much has changed in a short time. Her father’s generation and her grandparent’s generation survived by hunting, fishing and trapping throughout the region. But the oil and gas have edged out these traditional livelihoods, and brought little good in return. “Since 1978, over 14 billion dollars have been taken out of our traditional territory,” says Melina. “Yet my family still goes without running water! The more than 2600 oil wells on Lubicon territory make it difficult to live a healthy, traditional and sustainable lifestyle.”
Earlier this year, Melina testified before the US Congressional Committee on the impacts of oil sands projects in northern Alberta. With poise and conviction, Melina exposed the detrimental effects on her Nation, the Lubicon Cree in Northern Alberta, and urged the US Congress to become leaders in renewable energy production and reject the Enbridge pipeline.
Melina’s voice is one that urges world leaders and citizens to consider those who are affected by the oil sands development—including her community—and take decisive action. “Native people have always tried to maintain this reciprocal relationship with nature realizing that one must take care of and respect the environment,” says Melina. “When will our governments learn that they cannot keep taking and taking without regards to its consequences?”
About the Lubicon Lake Cree Nation
Still waiting for justice, Lubicon Cree say, the Toronto Star, 27 Mar 2010.
Is this really what an oil spill clean up looks like? Greenpeace Canada, 20 Jul 2012.
Ethical waters: Healing Walk in the tar sands grows year by year, rabble.ca, 8 Aug 2012.