Report documents resistance of women living along proposed pipeline route
(Ottawa)—28 October 2013
A new report released today show that despite efforts to muzzle the voices of communities resisting oil sands expansion in Alberta and the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, resistance is alive and well—and being led, in many cases, by women. Breaking Ground: Women, Oil and Climate Change in Alberta and British Columbia delivers findings from a delegation organized by the Nobel Women’s Initiative to the region.
The high-level group of women, that included Nobel Peace laureate Jody Williams as well as a University of Alberta scientist and an energy efficiency expert from the US, met with over 200 women in 13 communities last October.
The women in Alberta and British Columbia included indigenous leaders, community outreach workers and grassroots activists. They voiced their concerns about a range of economic, health, and social impacts of oil sands expansion—from homelessness, spiraling inflation, breathing problems, undrinkable water and increased cancer rates to domestic violence and unequal access to jobs.
“What we heard in western Canada echoes very much what I have heard from communities throughout North America,” said Williams. “Women are frustrated that very real concerns about potential oil spills, their families health and well-being—as well as climate change—are being ignored. So they are organizing, and demanding to be heard.”
Some women in western Canada say they are under high levels of pressure from government, industry and even other community members to not speak publicly against the oil sands. The report notes that recently introduced restrictions limit public participation in national Energy Board hearings on pipeline expansion—and raises concern that by “reducing debate and decision-making around oil sands industry expansion” there will not be “honest and open discussion of the cumulative effects of the development”.
The oil sands industry is the fastest-growing single source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. Oil sands production is projected to expand from 1.4 million barrels per day to 5 million by 2035. Mining has damaged over 680 square kilometres of land in the region—and pipeline construction has cut through thousands of kilometres of pristine forest and polluted streams and lakes.
“While people look at the environment and climate change, very few look at it from the perspective of women,” said Williams. “And as with many crises the world over, it’s the women and children who suffer the most when their environment is destroyed. I am so inspired by the strength and courage of women who are standing up for their communities in Alberta and British Columbia.”
Williams, who is in Ottawa this week for a series of events, is calling on the city of Ottawa to become a global leader on climate change. Her visit coincides with rising debate in Ottawa over TransCanada’s proposed plans to build the Energy East pipeline. That pipeline would carry over a million barrels a day of tar sands oil from Alberta to New Brunswick, making its way through Ottawa and across the Rideau River.
Read the full report online: http://bit.ly/breaking-ground-report
Tar Sands, Pipelines in Your Backyard and the Clean Energy Revolution: A conversation with Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams
Monday October 28, 7:00 to 8:30 PM. The Mayfair Theatre, Ottawa (Bank St. at Sunnyside)
Photo Op: Pipeline site visit with Jody Williams and local residents and farmers affected by the pipelines
Tuesday October 29, 10:00 AM to Noon.
Roundtable: Women Speaking Out About Climate Change and the Proposed Energy East Pipeline with Jody Williams
Tuesday October 29, 2:30 to 4:00 PM, 25OneCommunity at 251 Bank Street, Ottawa (between Cooper and Lisgar St.) 2nd floor
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The Nobel Women’s Initiative uses the prestige of the Nobel Peace Prize and courageous women Peace Laureates to increase the power and visibility of women’s groups working globally for peace, justice and equality. The Initiative is led by Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Leymah Gbowee, Tawakkol Karman and Mairead Maguire.