Last week, a team of RAN staff travelled to Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada to participate in the Tar Sands Healing Walk, which is organized and hosted by members of the local First Nations Communities.
Walking amidst the Tar Sands destruction was a humbling and powerful experience. We are putting together a series of blogs to share our impressions and reflections. This, our first one, is a photo-diary of the walk.
1. Grand Chief Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Derek Nepinak, Chief Allan Adam and Grand Chief Philip Stewart addressed the walkers at the beginning of our day. Each spoke about the importance of protecting land for future generations and the impacts that Tar Sands mining is having on First Nations Communities in Canada.
2. Aboriginal elders led procession under a banner reading “Stop the Destruction Start the Healing”. Along the way we stopped to pray for the land’s healing with offerings of tobacco, water and song.
3. We walked for more than nine miles around Syncrude’s excavation site, refinery and tailings ponds.
4. Many of the vehicles that passed our walk were transporting ‘potable water’. The local groundwater has been polluted by the Tar Sands mining operations.
5. This ‘Tailings Pond’ contains waste water from the Tar Sands extraction process. The neon work-suited scarecrows have been placed to deter birds from landing on the pond. 1600 ducks died after landing on a Syncrude tailings pond in 2008.
6. We were accompanied on the walk by two First Nations drum groups.
7. The air was thick and heavy with fumes from Syncrude’s refinery.
8. We passed a ‘work camp’ where Syncrude workers live, in the shadow of the refinery.
9. The RAN team, next to Syncrude’s refinery.
10. We passed several areas labeled as ‘reclamation’ sites. These bore no resemblance to the healthy Boreal forest ecosystem that existed before the mine was developed.
Stay tuned for future blog posts sharing our impressions and reflections.
We don’t get to do this as often as we would like. Today, we get to share some good news with you. Thanks to your hard work and support over the past four years, the world’s top publishers are moving in the right direction when it comes to eliminating rainforest destruction, human rights violations, and species extinction from their supply chains.
We’re publishing A New Chapter for the Publishing Industry: Putting Promises into Practice today, which outlines the shift in the entire sector as the implementation of publishers’ Indonesian forest commitments proceeds. Given the progress that publishers have undertaken in the last four years (since our 2010 report), we can confidently say that you have successfully prodded the 10 biggest publishers—and hence the whole industry—in the right direction. Click here to read the new report.
To really illustrate the point, we are pleased to tell you about two recently announced paper policies from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Macmillan. These policies go farther, in many ways, than past commitments from other companies. They demonstrate a new level of thoughtfulness and attention to detail—and a fierce commitment to eliminating controversial fiber and suppliers in order to protect the forests facing the greatest threats. Over the last four years, RAN has worked closely with publishers to develop and innovate the best practices for eliminating controversial fiber and suppliers from supply chains, and verifying and implementing forest commitments. What has emerged is a set of best practices (spelled out in the report) that could guide companies--not just in paper but in many forest commodities--in tracing their supply chains and protecting forests in the process. Of course, there’s still work to be done.
In order to translate this work to change on the ground, publishers should urge all of their supply chain partners to develop and implement strong, comprehensive paper policies. And, in particular, all companies should either stop buying (or maintain their no-buy stance) on controversial Indonesian pulp and paper giant APRIL and all affiliated companies.
Of course, this transformative work would never have been possible without you. While much of this work has happened behind the scenes, you were with us every step of the way through your commitment to RAN and its work.