03 August 2009


30 July 2009

From what I could tell at a distance, the dogs were friendly. Did that give me the liberty to traverse the junkyard completely, alone? As the total anti-materialist photographer (is that an oxymoron?), what could be more idyllic than a junkyard? But I had a flat tire and an appointment with a group of Cree first nation elders, and was in no mood to be exploring a junkyard looking for a Toyota with a particular size tire. To make the story shorter in the telling, John, the tire man, finally came to my rescue, and no Toyotas with 195-15 tires did he find either, at which point he suggested we go look through the large rows of tires that were standing at his work station, something I had opined upon arrival. The first one he found had rot around the edges (he really did know his stuff) but the second one had more tread than the tire I had cut. Yes it was my fault, the Toyota simply was not sturdy enough to jump the curb off the highway. The squeaky new factory prefab housing surrounded by grassless dirt (tar sands topsoil removed prior to strip mining the bitumen filled sand below?) was too appealing a picture. The signs with their promises of cheap schooling and easy commutes, prices the same paid in Toronto or Boston, painted a picture not dissimilar to the gold rush towns of California in the good old days. But halcyon days are back in Fort McMurray, 1600 miles north of Edmonton thanks to the tar sands. Unless you live downstream.

But let’s face it. As long as there is demand (that means us), these resources will be extracted, at whatever cost necessary. And do you really think the needs of a small minority group will be considered versus all that money to be made? I hope so.

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