Paddle to Squaxin 2012

On July 29, 2012, The Squaxin Island Tribe will host the 24th annual Canoe Journey, an intertribal celebration of Pacific Northwest canoe culture and tradition. More than 100 canoes will land at the Port of Olympia, in Washington state, with thousands of people joining together to welcome each arrival.
Charlene Krise, Squaxin Island Museum Executive Director said, “The power of the canoe journey reaches into the very depths of the spirit, mind and body of our tribal people. The canoe journey is so powerful in helping to retrieve, revive and empower tribal people. We gain a positive outlook for the present and future generations.”
Ms. Krise went on to say , “The Squaxin Island Tribe has chosen to honor the Teachings of Our Ancestors as our guide for Paddle to Squaxin 2012. These teachings are the center of our lives and cultures. Our ancestors teach us that we must care for our elders, each other, our children, and the earth because each is a part of our past, present and future. The Canoe Journey is a reflection of this connection.”
For centuries, Pacific Northwest tribal people navigated the waterways in intricately carved dugout canoes. The Salish Sea, the body of water that encompasses Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Strait of Georgia in Canada, was the central force that connected canoe cultures for intertribal communication and trade. But early federal government mandates outlawed many tribal traditions, resulting in the almost lost art of canoe building, and ceremonial practices. In 1989, the Canoe Journey event, originally called the “Paddle to Seattle”, was organized as a revival of the canoe culture
traditions and the Native American contribution to the Washington State Centennial. Today, tribes from Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and the Seminole Tribe in Florida participate.
The Bella Bella, from British Columbia, will travel more than 1,000 miles over 23 days. As the canoes arrive at the host site on July 29th, each canoe family asks for permission to come ashore, according to their own culture and protocol. Paddles are raised, signifying “We come in peace.” The Squaxin Island Tribe will then host a week of traditional potlatch ceremonies and festivities with daily performances by dancers, singers and storytellers. Potlatch ceremonies and performances will take place on the Squaxin Island Reservation. The public is welcome but is asked to respect ceremonies, while in the protocol tent.
The Tribe is currently working in partnership with the City of Olympia and the Port of Olympia on a transportation and parking plan to accommodate visitors and participants.
For additional information about activities in the surrounding Olympia and Thurston County area, visit the WWW.visitolympia.com.

Steh-Chass…The Great Earthquake – During the time when human and animal nations could speak the same language, all were required to follow sacred teachings. At one time, the teachings were forgotten and the Changer came. He caused the ground to shake with such force that it dammed up the river. The river became impassable to the Salmon People and they had to find different creeks. – Told by Squaxin Island Tribal member Bruce Johnson, Budd Inlet Watershed

READ MORE HERE:

http://paddletosquaxin2012.org/landings/

meet my friend Johnathan Brooks

Spirit Bear Coaching

Wandering Spirit – One man’s journey back to his roots!
by Johnathan Brooks (Northern Cheyenne)

I was born a Native American then adopted in a hotel lobby in San Francisco where the mothers met, probably over a coffee as one does, there they made the exchange. My new adopted mother being Countess Barbara von Bismarck returned to Europe, as my adopted father Steve Brooks worked as a Hollywood Exec for Yul Brynner (actor) was based in the south of France, and she wanted to be nearer to her family but not too near!

I eventually found and met my birthparents August 1989 and eventually became a recognised enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe. The missing part of my life puzzle was complete.

The Adoption Agencies and ex-American Indian Movement members really don’t like my cross cultural adoption story. It’s now illegal to adopt Native Americans.

This was published in Spirit & Destiny national (UK) magazine November 2011.

Listen to a live interview here: http://spiritualwarriortoday.com/on-air-now/ (look in archive for Johnathan Brooks)

Enjoy! http://www.spiritbearcoaching.com/

The Thick Dark Fog

Read more here: http://www.nativetelecom.org/thick_dark_fog

For Immediate Release:
The Thick Dark Fog, a feature documentary that tackles the psychological trauma of Indian boarding schools, available on DVD this March

Lincoln, Neb: Native American Public Telecommunications, Inc. (NAPT) proudly announces the DVD release of The Thick Dark Fog, “Best Documentary” winner at the 2011 American Indian Film Festival, from filmmakers Randy Vasquez and Jonathan Skurnik. The film documents the life-long journey of Walter Littlemoon, a Lakota man who heals the wounds of his Indian boarding school experience so that he can move forward with his life. Co-produced by High Valley Films and NAPT, The Thick Dark Fog addresses the mandate of many Indian boarding schools in the mid-1900s which was to “kill the Indian and save the man.”

“The children were not allowed to speak their language or express their culture or Native identity in any way,” commented the film’s producer, Jonathan Skurnik, “How do you confront something like that?”

Confronting his past is exactly what Littlemoon had to do in order to heal himself and his community. Like many Native Americans, Walter acted out his unresolved Indian boarding school trauma through alcoholism and domestic violence. 

Walter’s wife, Jane, encouraged him to talk about his past with professionals. Jane also aided in Walter’s decision to write a book and publish his memoirs so that he could help his estranged children understand why he struggled so much as a father. However, when Walter revisited his Indian boarding school memories, he found it nearly impossible to continue writing the book. Despite the struggles, at age 67, Walter’s book entitled, They Called Me Uncivilized: The Memoir of an Everyday Lakota Man from Wounded Knee was published. In the book and film, Walter explains that he did not have a name for the pain and confusion that he felt, so he called it “the thick, dark fog.”

“Like so many, I have lived a life blocked by fear, led by fear and governed by fear that was created in those childhood days,” stated Littlemoon.

“Walter’s mission was to let other Native folk around the country know that they can deal with what happened to them at the boarding schools–those that had a traumatic experience like he did,” said the film’s director/producer Randy Vasquez.

Despite the impact of the Indian boarding schools on Native American communities across the U.S., their impact on Native culture and history has been largely withheld from America’s mainstream Native American narrative. “Here was the legacy of oppression that was on par with slavery that American children don’t learn about in school,” added Skurnik.

As time has passed, more positive accounts have surfaced from Native Americans about their boarding school experiences such as being saved from poverty and making life-long friends. However, The Thick Dark Fog tells one man’s story of healing from the destructive aspects of the Indian boarding school experience and how he gave back to his community.

For more information, visit the official website for The Thick Dark Fog at www.thickdarkfog.com.

About this episode

TV-UN

Walter Littlemoon is a 69-year-old Lakota man born and raised in Wounded Knee, South Dakota. At the age of five, he was removed from his family to attend a Federal government boarding school where his culture, language and spirituality were suppressed. The Thick Dark Fog profiles Walter’s journey to heal himself and his community while reclaiming his heritage. The film’s title comes from Walter’s own self-diagnosis of the state-of-mind that he lived in for so many years until he began to tell his story and heal from his childhood trauma.

  • Release Date

    Jan 30, 2012
  • Runtime

    02:36
 NOTE: I do write about this in my memoir ONE SMALL SACRIFICE- I felt I walked out of my DARK FOG in the 1990s. LARA/TRACE (AN ADOPTEE)

snow moon

Get Out Your Shades for the Brilliant Algonquin Snow Moon  By ICTMN Staff
February 7, 2012

There’s no need to keep one’s eyes peeled for tonight’s lunar phenomenon—it will be in your face with the luminescent Snow Moon, which is attracting a lot of online chatter both for being a spectacular display and for being an Algonquin term, at least according to the Farmers’ Almanac.

Every tribe has names for the moon, a different one for each month in many cases. With Earth’s satellite changing shape and color in the sky almost daily, and its lighting and position varying month by month, it’s not surprising that the orb has earned many monikers.

“The tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon,” states the Farmers’ Almanac, the principal source quoted by numerous media outlets. “Their names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred.”

Tonight Mother Earth will bask in the full glow of the Snow Moon, which according to the Farmers’ Almanac earned the designation because of what is usually happening on the Algonquins’ traditional turf, the territory stretching from the Great Lakes through what is known today as the northeastern United States.

“Some tribes also referred to it as the Full Hunger Moon or Little Famine Moon, since harsh weather conditions in their areas made hunting very difficult,” the Farmers’ Almanac says. “Forced to gnaw on bones and sip bone marrow soup for sustenance, the Cherokee named it the Full Bony Moon.”

The Algonquin name may have the world abuzz, but it is just one of dozens of tribal names for the February moon. Some samples are below, thanks to the site AmericanIndian.net, which actually lists the Algonquin name for February moon as wapicuummilcum, or Ice in River Is Gone.

Other tribal February moon names, according to the site: the Abenaki call it piaôdagos, Makes Branches Fall in Pieces Moon; the Anishnaabe (Chippewa, Ojibwe), from the Great Lakes, named it the Sucker Moon, or namebini-giizis. The Apache had a cheerier epithet, Frost Sparkling in the Sun, while the Assiniboine called it Long Dry Moon, and the Choctaw nicknamed it hotvlee-hv’see, or Wind Moon. Back in the wintry realm, the Comanche of the southern plains called it positsu mua, Sleet Moon, while the Canadian Cree of the northern plains called it the Old Moon. Up north in Alaska it’s also known as cepizun, or Old Moon, among the Haida, while the Hopi call it powamuya, Moon of Purification and Renewal.

On a more pessimistic note, the Kalapuya of the Pacific Northwest, in what is today Oregon, called it atchiulartadsh, Out of Food. Cannapopa wi was the name given the moon by the Lakota of the northern plains, Moon When the Trees Crack Because of the Cold.

One name unlikely to surface soon is 51st State, USA, Republican Presidential hopeful Newt Gringrich’s vow to colonize the moon notwithstanding. The moon’s rutted dark side, which the Earth never sees, bears the scars of interplanetary bombardment, as the recent NASA video shows.

Tonight’s abnormally springlike temperatures will not deter the Snow Moon from shining brightly, however. Stay tuned for the full brilliance starting at 4:54 p.m. EST (2154 GMT), according to Space.com. The moon has been blazing since yesterday and will continue into tomorrow night, but tonight is the actual full moon, Space.com said.

“The full moon rises around sunset and sets around sunrise, the only night in the month when the moon is in the sky all night long,” Space.com said, quoting a February 2012 skywatching guide written by contributor and astronomer Geoff Gaherty.

Read more:http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/02/07/get-out-your-shades-for-the-brilliant-algonquin-snow-moon-96361

Tracking Bigfoot – Farmington Daily Times

Tracking Bigfoot – Farmington Daily Times. And the Lakota have their own – I heard it scream back in the early 1990s…Lara

Wind River Big Troubles #NDN

Brutal Crimes Grip an Indian Reservation

Matthew Staver for The New York Times

A rambling stretch of scrub in central Wyoming the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined, Wind River has a crime rate five to seven times the national average and a long history of ghastly homicides. 

By , February 2, 2012 WIND RIVER INDIAN RESERVATION, Wyo. — At a boys’ basketball game here last month, Wyoming Indian High School, a perennial state power, was trading baskets with a local rival. The players, long-limbed and athletic, are among the area’s undisputed stars, and their games one of its few diversions. On this night, more than 2,500 cheering, stomping people came to watch.

 Matthew Staver for The New York Times

“This place has always had the gloom here,” Kim Lambert, a tribal advocate on the reservation, said as she drove by a line of small houses people refer to as “murderers’ row” because of its violence. 

Matthew Staver for The New York Times

Tribal police officers, above, at a checkpoint last month on the Wind River Indian Reservation, a stretch of scrub in Wyoming as big as Rhode Island and Delaware combined. “This place has always had the gloom here,” says Kim Lambert, right, a tribal advocate.

Outside the gym, in a glass trophy case, are photographs of players from recent championship teams. Someone peered in and, moving his finger along the line of smiling faces, delivered a cruel counterpoint: killed in a car accident at 19 while intoxicated; murdered in his 20s; struck in the head with an ax not long after graduation.

The Obama administration, which has made reducing crime a priority in its attempt to improve the quality of life at dozens of Indian reservations plagued by violence, recently ended a two-year crime-fighting initiative at Wind River and three other reservations deemed to be among the country’s most dangerous.

Nicknamed “the surge,” it was modeled after the military’s Iraq war strategy, circa 2007, which helped change the course of the conflict. Hundreds of officers from the National Park Service and other federal agencies swarmed the reservations, and crime was reduced at three of the four reservations — including a 68 percent decline at Mescalero Apache in New Mexico, officials said. Wind River, as has been true for much of its turbulent history, bucked the trend: violent crime there increased by 7 percent during the surge, according to the Department of Justice.

Despite its bucolic name, the reservation, nestled among snowcapped peaks and rivers filled with trout, is a place where brutal acts have become banal. A rambling stretch of scrub in central Wyoming the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined, Wind River has a crime rate five to seven times the national average and a long history of ghastly homicides.

During the initiative, which increased the number of officers on the reservation to 37 from 6, crimes included the murder of a 13-year-old girl who had been missing for four days and whose partly clothed body was found under a tree, and the killing of a 25-year-old man, who the police say had been beaten with a child’s car seat and a dumbbell by two friends after a sexual encounter.

“This place has always had the gloom here,” Kim Lambert, a tribal advocate on the reservation, said as she drove by a line of small houses people refer to as “murderers’ row.” “There has always been the horrendous murder. There has always been the white-Indian tension. It’s always been something.”

Crime may be Wind River’s most pressing problem, but it has plenty of company. Life, even by the grim standards of the typical American Indian reservation, is as bleak and punishing as that of any developing country. On average, residents can expect to live 49 years, 20 years fewer than in Iraq. Unemployment, estimated to be higher than 80 percent, is on a par with Zimbabwe’s, and is approaching the proportionate inverse of Wyoming’s 6 percent jobless rate.

The reservation’s high school dropout rate of 40 percent is more than twice the state average. Teenagers and young adults are twice as likely to kill themselves as their peers elsewhere in Wyoming. Child abuse, teenage pregnancy, sexual assault and domestic violence are endemic, and alcoholism and drug abuse are so common that residents say positive urinalysis results on drug tests are what bar many from working at the state’s booming oil fields.

On one section of the reservation, people must boil drinking water because chemicals, possibly the result of the oil and natural gas drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, have contaminated the water supply. And fearing that the chemicals might explode in a home, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered residents to run fans and otherwise ensure ventilation while bathing or washing clothes.

The difficulties among Wind River’s population of about 14,000 have become so daunting that many believe that the reservation, shared by the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone Tribes, is haunted — the ghosts of the innocent killed in an 1864 massacre.

“Anywhere, there are good spirits and bad spirits around,” said Ivan Posey, a member of the Eastern Shoshone Business Council. “But when people are struggling in their lives, those bad spirits come around more often. It’s kind of a yin and yang.”

Why the other reservations were able to curb crime while Wind River was not has been a matter of grave speculation. Some blame Wind River’s geographic isolation and a general apathy on the reservation, while others point to the numerous troubled children being raised by grandparents unable to keep track of them.

During a recent Friday night patrol on the reservation, Michael Shockley, a Wind River police officer whose department lacks even the basic ability to track crimes, said he was surprised to learn that the surge had not reduced violent crime.

Even with 10 fewer officers than it had during the surge, Officer Shockley said, the Police Department responds to all calls, not just the most serious ones. Crime, he said, has appeared to ebb, especially when compared with what he referred to as the bad old days, when on a single night about a year ago, he drove a total of 400 miles, logged 42 calls and arrested 19 people.

Still, signs of disillusionment are ubiquitous: piles of empty Black Velvet whisky and vodka bottles; discarded prescription bottles for painkillers; gang graffiti; burnt-out homes.

As far as criminality, this is the pinnacle,” Officer Shockley said. “You see everything here.”

The Bureau of Indian Affairs, which oversees the Wind River Police Department, says the rise in violent crime was a result of people reporting offenses they might have ignored before — which suggests that the reservation’s crime rate is even higher than previously thought. In fact, the bureau says, crime has fallen since the surge ended in October, although it did not provide statistics.

Joseph Brooks III, the Wind River police chief, said that one resident, shocked that the police response had gone from hours to minutes, told him, “Chief, if I knew you were going to come immediately, I would have called you later.”

One crime the surge was unable to prevent was the death of Marisa Spoonhunter, an eighth grader at Wyoming Indian Middle School who was killed in April 2010. Her parents recognized her body by the coat they had recently bought for her in Denver.

Marisa’s 21-year-old brother, Robert, and 19-year-old stepcousin were arrested and convicted. The three had been drinking in a trailer home when Robert Spoonhunter said he blacked out and awoke to find his sister and cousin having sex. An enraged Mr. Spoonhunter said he choked his sister for about 20 seconds before flinging her away. Marisa’s head hit a weight-lifting bench.

The men fastened a rope to her ankles and dragged her under a tree. Before resuming drinking, they put her clothes in a burn barrel.

At the sentencing, Vern Spoonhunter, the father of Marisa and Robert, said Marisa had been in the third generation of Spoonhunters to be murdered at Wind River — meeting the same end as his father and brother.

“Now we have two rooms in our home that are empty,” he said, referring to his children. “And that’s what we have to deal with.”

A version of this article appeared in print on February 3, 2012, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: An Indian Reservation in Crime’s Deadly Grip.

First Nations force-fed lower living standards

Health/Fort William First Nation/ Jan. 19, 2012 –

“Canada forces First Nations to accept lower standards of living,” says Peter Collins, Northern Superior Regional Chief for the Anishinabek Nation. Collins, also Chief of Fort William First Nation near Thunder Bay, hopes this is an issue that will be dealt with at the Jan. 24 Crown-First Nations Gathering in Ottawa. “First Nations are forced to deal with lower standards for their citizens in housing and health care because of funding arrangements imposed on our populations for decades. We are concerned that cuts to funding in these areas are likely and will lead to crisis situations in many of our communities. Housing and health care services are paramount to the basic survival of our people and should be a shared priority for all concerned as we try to move forward, strengthening our citizens, communities and nation. Regional Chief Collins, whose community recently concluded a 160-year-old land claim, also hopes the summit of First Nations Chiefs and Prime Minister Stephen Harper will make a commitment to streamline the existing land claims policy and procedures. “First Nations, through land claims, are attempting to correct some of the wrongs that have been inflicted upon our citizens by Canada and Ontario not holding to the true agreements of our treaties and inherent rights,” says Chief Collins. “Yet, even with the processes and strides that we are making in bringing forth and settling claims, the processes are long and costly, directed by Canada and decided upon by the very government who broke the pacts. It is our position that First Nations should have stronger positions and control mechanisms in these processes in order to fairly and reasonably solve these issues as Nations.” The Anishinabek Nation established the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 39 member communities across Ontario, representing approximately 55,000 people. The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.

FMI:Marci Becking,  Communications Officer Union of Ontario Indians, Phone: (705) 497-9127 (ext. 2290) Cell: (705) 494-0735 E-mail: becmar@anishinabek.ca.

Early Encounters in North America

I want to read this one!

Early Encounters in North America: Peoples, Cultures and the Environment
Alexander Street Press; alexanderstreet.com/products/eena.htm

Early Encounters (EENA) gathers published and unpublished personal accounts of traders, slaves, missionaries, explorers, soldiers, Native peoples, and officials. The database focuses on descriptions of the natural features of North America as well as the interactions among various culture groups, with coverage from 1534 to 1850.  EENA contains information on 1,482 authors and provides more than 100,000 pages of narratives, diaries, journals, images, maps, and letters that “document the first impressions of North America by Europeans and of Europeans by native people.”  A sampling of source texts includes accounts of early explorations of the colonies at Roanoke and Plymouth; collected accounts of the Americas published in Europe by de Bry; the original journals of the Lewis and Clark expedition; and studies on the distinct cultures of California; accounts by the Apache, Yuma, and Navaho; and information on the natural and cultural impact of the California Gold Rush.

EENA includes more than 1200 quality color images, including many works by George Catlin and John James Audubon. These are indexed independently and are searchable by date, author, and numerous other identifiers and are viewable when browsing the electronic versions of whole books. The database is available either through annual subscription or as a one-time purchase of perpetual rights.

webcast – NMAI Panel on Blood Quantum

NMAI Panel on Blood Quantum

http://www.nmai.si.edu/webcasts/

The National Museum of the American Indian in DC is hosting a panel discussion entitled Quantum Leap: Does “Indian Blood” Still Matter?

The panel is 2-4:30pm (EST), and will be web-casted here. If you want some background, Dennis Zotigh posted an article yesterday to give some of the basic history and start the conversation, it’s definitely worth a read.

I’ll be watching, and attempting to live-tweet over at the Native Approps twitter (@NativeApprops), and then tomorrow I’ll probably post a summary/discussion on the blog.

I’m interested to hear the current “academic” perspective on the issue, and interested to see if the discussion goes outside of the typical dichotomous conversation on Blood Quantum (i.e. one side saying “it’s good!” and the other “it’s bad!”), clearly it’s a lot more complicated. The panelists all come from the academic world (and there are two Stanford affiliates–go Card!), so it’ll be interesting to see how the conversation flows:

Welcome and Opening Remarks
Gabrielle Tayac, national Museum of the American Indian

The Meanings of “Indian Blood”: Perspectives on Race and Identity
Eva Marie Garroutte, Boston College

The Consequences of Blood Quantum Policy for Federal Recognition
Malinda Maynor Lowery, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

A Sociological Look at Blood Quantum
C. Matthew snipp, stanford University

From Blood to DNA, from “Tribe” to “Race” in Tribal Citizenship
Kimberly Tallbear, University of California, Berkeley

Question and Answer Session
Gabrielle Tayac, moderator

For more information about the panel and panelists, check out the NMAI website here.

 

Ojibwe Warrior Jim Northrup on Surviving Vietnam

Despite the horrors he has experienced, Northrup retained his sense of humor. His poems evoked laughter, applause, and a sense of the tragedy of battle.

Read here:  http://tahlequahdailypress.com/features/x1642541852/Veteran-tells-story-of-survivng-the-peace

Jim Northrup and I met when I was editor of Ojibwe Akiing. Please read this story and find (rent or buy) the movie “Way of the Warrior” by Patty Loew – celebrate these Ojibwe warrior writers and all they do….

big oil has never been about ethics

It will take more than rebranding to make tar sands oil “ethical”

Alberta tar sands contribute to about five per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions

By David Suzuki with Faisal Moola

Ripping a page — or the cover — from fellow Conservative and former tobacco industry lobbyist Ezra Levant’s book, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his new environment minister, Peter Kent, have taken to referring to the product of the Alberta tar sands as ethical oil.

The Prime Minister and Mr. Levant go back a long way. It was Mr. Levant who reluctantly stepped aside as the Alliance candidate in Calgary Southwest so that Mr. Harper could run in a by-election there in 2002. But the “ethical oil” argument they promote has holes as big as the ones in the ground around Fort McMurray.

To start, the logic is faulty. Just because a country or society is considered “ethical” does not mean everything it produces or exports is ethical. If we are going to delve into the ethics of the issue, we must look at the ethics of energy overall. That means considering the impacts of various energy systems on people and the environment.

Here, the science is troubling. It shows that the Alberta tar sands contribute to about five per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions and are the country’s fastest growing source of emissions. To date, they have disturbed 600 square kilometres of boreal forest with little or no chance of true reclamation, use enormous amounts of water, and pollute the surrounding air and water.

This past summer, an independent, peer-reviewed scientific study showed that toxic byproducts from the tar sands extraction industry are poisoning the Athabasca River, putting downstream First Nations communities and the fish they eat at risk. Health studies show these First Nations communities already have elevated rare cancers associated with exposure to such toxins.

If this is the most “ethical” source of oil we can find, we need to ask other questions about the moral purity of our intensively processed bitumen. For example, if we sell the oil to countries with poor human-rights records, like China, does that affect the product’s “ethical” nature? And how “ethical” are the companies operating in the tar sands; for example, Exxon Mobil, well-known sponsor of climate-change disinformation campaigns; BP, responsible for last year’s massive oily disaster in the Gulf of Mexico; or PetroChina? There’s also the effect of greenhouse gas emissions on our children and grandchildren, which to me is an intergenerational crime.

In this light, wouldn’t energy from technologies or sources that limit the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change and that have a minimal environmental and health impacts be far more ethical than fossil fuels? And, from an economic perspective, wouldn’t these more ethical technologies or fuel sources be doubly attractive to foreign buyers if they came from an “ethical” country like Canada?

As award-winning Alberta author Andrew Nikiforuk has argued, with proper development, the tar sands could help provide Canada with the oil and money we need to shift to a low-carbon economy. But major changes are needed. Environmental regulation and monitoring must be strengthened. Pollution and related health problems must be addressed. More of the revenue must go to Canadians rather than fossil fuel companies. And a national carbon tax would help us move from oil to less-polluting energy sources.

The problem is, no matter what Ezra Levant and his friends in government say, oil has never been about “ethics”. It has always been about money. Those who argue the case for “ethical oil” should work to ensure that our energy needs are met in a truly ethical way, now and into the future. In the end, the only truly ethical solution is to phase out oil. The black eye that tar sands oil is sporting can’t be remedied with meaningless phrases such as “ethical oil”.

To be seen as truly ethical when it comes to energy policy, Canada must slow down tar sands development, clean up the environmental problems, implement a national carbon tax, improve the regulatory and monitoring regime, and make sure that Canadians are reaping their fair share of the revenues. We must also start taking clean energy seriously. Rather than subsidizing the tar sands and all the fossil fuel industry through massive tax breaks, we should be investing in energy technologies that will benefit our health, economy, and climate.

It might also help if Canada’s environment minister spent more time protecting the environment rather than appeasing the oil industry and its apologists.