2009- Nuke. The Empires dissect us. Why I won’t quit. Ogoni, Saro-Wiwa, Royal Dutch Shell, Niger Delta oil, local destruction and poverty.
American corporate interests and the Chinese are in a turf war in Saskatchewan. Who will “own” us and our resources? Control of oil and gas (tar sands) with the nuclear reactors needed for tar sands expansion.
I wonder: BEFORE the destruction, in the lead-up to Royal Dutch Shell’s “development” of the oil and gas reserves in the Niger Delta, did the Ogoni people have any idea – did they have a resistance movement? Or did they only find out when it was too late?
What was it like in Alberta BEFORE the devastation of the Tar Sands became known? They, like the Ogoni, are dealing with things TOO LATE, after the destruction has occurred. Same story as for the Aamjiwnaang of Sarnia ON, after Suncor’s petro-chemical plants set up shop next door to them.
In Saskatchewan we have the luxery of peering over the border. We know with absolute certainty what is coming down the pipeline. It has already started – – the acidification of lakes and land in northern Saskatchewan, some already past critical load limits, downwind from the tar sands belching out the poisons.
It’s not just for us, the people of Saskatchewan. … I am reminded of David Orchard’s book, The Fight For Canada. Canadian history is one of attempted invasions by the Americans. I wonder whether my generation will go down in history as the one that gave up and succumbed to the take-over.
Maybe it won’t be the American Empire that takes and poisons the resources and water of our place in the world. Maybe it will be the Chinese who have bought into the tar sands to the tune of $1.2 billion dollars. And who will be in Saskatoon October 19 – 22 for a Chinese – First Nations Economic Development Exposition.
It is surreal, like Frodo and the Lord of the Rings. The ordinary person called on to do his job.
As I see it, “we” must win the battle over the nuclear reactors which means we keep the power at the community level which means we win the battle over tar sands development which means we move onto the path of renewable energy sources that don’t destroy the Earth.
If we DON’T WIN that battle IN SASKATCHEWAN, if we don’t make the transition to a different way of viewing the world, to conservation, renewable energy sources, and social democratic government, we will leave our children the legacy of impoverishment. Look at the Ogoni.
On October 21st George Bush (who dropped bombs on Iraq to secure American corporate interests in oil) will be addressing an audience in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (if we are unable to force Canadian Border Services or the RCMP or the Saskatoon Police to bring charges against him for violations of Canadian and International Law). On Saturday past, two American senators and the Governor of Montana visited us. Unheard of.
RE the Chinese: “there is an economic development conference (CHINEX2009) between China and First Nations in Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, October 19 – 22. This is an excellent venue in which to protest the tar sands development as this is a high profile event and also this is about our own people taking part in the destruction of our environment… do you know people who can come and protest here? I will help out with communications and meetings …”
If EITHER the American corporate interests or the Chinese prevail, northern Saskatchewan will be like northern Alberta. They will only stop when the destruction of the Earth and water is complete.
In order to halt their agenda I think we have to be successful in joining hand-to-hand without regard for individual background. Everyone possible has to be empowered, and responsible. All hands on deck!
THE SIGNIFICANCE of your visit: just the fact of your coming has already helped to build more and strengthen the existing connections between native and non-native groups in Saskatchewan.
Karen was the one who proposed your name as a powerful speaker. It turns out to be a stroke of genius – not even planned. Karen has heard you speak in the past and has great respect for you and your work. When she said, “Winona LaDuke would be great, if we could ever get her!” it was not out of a strategic plan to involve First Nations people. It was simply on the basis of you.
It is as things continue to unfold that we come to understand the inspiration behind Karen’s suggestion.
Before you have even arrived there is a great deal of excitement and working together as I have never seen before in my days in Saskatchewan. I believe we can prevail.
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“ . . . massive and proven oil and gas reserves”.
Tar sands. Mineral resources. Water resources. Alas! They attract the oil and gas corporations – American, Chinese, Dutch, whatever. “Petro-states” replace democratic government.
(I think that great young fellow from Greenpeace, Mike Hudema, might have recently convinced the Norwegians that their state-owned oil company should vacate the Tar Sands. Wonderful work on behalf of sanity – many thanks Mike!)
The story of the Ogoni in Nigeria, Patrice Lumumba in the Congo (copper mines), “Saro-Wiwa and eight of his comrades in MOSOP were hanged on November 10, 1995, by Nigeria’s then military regime after a controversial trial in which the writer and politician was accused of ordering the murder of four prominent Ogonis.
The executions sparked international condemnation — Nigeria was kicked out of the Commonwealth — and most Ogonis still believe that Saro-Wiwa was framed because he opposed the government and Anglo-Dutch oil firm Royal Dutch Shell.
Ogoni land is a tract of densely-inhabited forest and farmland lying along the fringes of the Niger Delta wetlands north and east of Port Harcourt. It is home to around 500,000 Ogonis and massive and proven oil and gas reserves.
Shell owns the rights to pump Ogoni oil and was already earning large revenues from the territory in the early 1990s when MOSOP began to mount protests.
Saro-Wiwa argued that Ogoni farmland and fishing areas were being damaged by oil pollution and that the industry’s profits were not being shared with local communities. The military reacted with savage punishment raids, driving thousands of Ogonis into exile.
Mitee said that Shell would not be allowed to return to Ogoniland until it found a way to prevent pollution poisoning the region and paid full compensation to the community.
In 2005 the Nigerian government set up a committee, headed by a Roman Catholic cleric, Matthew Hassan Kukah, to reconcile Shell with MOSOP. The panel has made little progress, however, and Shell officials say they are in no hurry to return.
Shell has always insisted it had nothing to do with the decision to try Saro-Wiwa, but in the face of local anger and an international consumer boycott it shut down its Ogoni operations in 1993 — before the executions took place — and has yet to reopen the pumps.
Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999 but, while Ogoniland has been spared much of the violence that has raged elsewhere in the delta in recent years, Saro-Wiwa’s people remain politically weak and mired in poverty.”