"Only when the last tree has died,
the last river been poisoned,
and the last fish been caught,
will we realise we cannot eat money."
This week I am once again veering far from fiction with my entry for the Trifecta Writing Challenge. I could not resist, I am afraid. The third definition of the word, sway, held too much temptation and proved impossible to resist given all that is happening close to home and slightly further afield.
The current lack of democratic values in Canada shocks those looking to effect change. Some, though, have never had the luxury of such illusions.
Melina Laboucan-Massimo is one such person. She belongs to the Lubicon Cree First Nation and is an activist with Greenpeace, not because she always dreamed of being a political figure but because she felt she had little other choice.
The oil sands have raped and polluted the land her family has lived on for generations. Not so long ago, her father still ran their trapline and the family gathered food and lived off the land. It may sound romanticised, but no other way of life has replaced it; it was still the norm until the 1970s when Alberta started to develop the tar sands. Oil rigs, pipelines, spills were the new normal, but any and all profits flowing as quickly south as the oil itself.
Not only did the Lubicon lose their livelihoods, no new opportunities have ever arisen to replace what they lost, to benefit them. Spikes in illnesses and cancers followed.
A recent spill on the pipeline (May 2011) was the largest to date -- 28,000 barrels of crude oil. School children and villagers were ill from a noxious substance for five days before the government officially informed them of the spill, located seven kilometres away. That oil seeped into the ecosystem and remains there today.
What leader doesn’t tell a people about a disaster in their surrounds? But that collection of oil will continue at all costs. The Lubicon people will end up no different than the Ogani in Nigeria: collateral damage.
Today our leaders are putting more pipelines through lands they don’t have legal rights to build upon, but it is money that will hold the ultimate sway. Regardless of those who stand in the way, of those who wage war (and there will be war), the pipelines will go through as blood and oil will stain the path.
This week, as mentioned above, we have used the third definition for sway, as found in Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary.
3 a : a controlling influence
b : sovereign power : dominion
c : the ability to exercise influence or authority : dominance
(I rather liked that there existed still three choices for that one definition.)