Leader of Alberta’s Green Party, Cheryle Changnon-Greyeyes, left, fields questions with Sandra Sutter after a showing of Sacred Water: Standing Rock, at artsPlace in Canmore on Tuesday (Oct. 9). Photo credit: Brandon Wilson RMO photo CANMORE– As a partner of the Indigenous 150+ film and conversation series, artsPlace hosted a screening of Sacred Water: Standing Rock Part 1 on Tuesday (Oct. 9) to prompt discussion about the role Indigenous communities can play Canada’s economy.
Sacred Water: Standing Rock Part 1 details the rise of Indigenous resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline project among members of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, and the role that youth is playing in organizing opposition to the project.
Leader of Alberta’s Green Party Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes and executive director of the Circle for Aboriginal Relations Society (CFAR) Sandra Sutter joined the screening of the film for the discussion that followed. Stoney Nakoda Chiniki band member and artsPlace’s Indigenous liaison Tasina Pope moderated the discussion.
Topics the panel discussed included the role of education among Indigenous youth, the relationships between Indigenous communities and non-Indigenous owned businesses, the importance of proper consultation between businesses and Indigenous communities, and the ethics of continued expansion of the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline.
“If we approach development in a way that’s inclusive of Indigenous communities, and if that inclusion, if we ensure that it’s community driven and we’re not coming in as a patriarch or a colonialist … then I think we can approach these projects together,” said Sutter.
Sutter’s main focus during the evening was the need for quality consultations between Indigenous communities and non-Indigenous developers to help provide a strong economic base for members of Indigenous bands.
“I believe Indigenous communities are open for business,” said Sutter. “Where they’re included in the decisions of the business, where there is an equity stake, where they are consulted.”
Chagnon-Greyeyes primarily talked about the need for Alberta to seek out differing sources of transporting its oil reserves rather than pipelines, as well as talking about how the future of Alberta’s economy shouldn’t just rely primarily on the energy sector, but rather on the emerging technological sector and the education sector.
“I’m of the belief that we can do this better,” said Chagnon-Greyeyes. “I don’t think pipelines are the only way to move resources.”
One way that Chagnon-Greyeyes believes Alberta can transport its oil resources in the future is the emerging technology of turning tar sands into semi solid “pellets” that can then be transported through rail or truck. Although the technology is in its infancy, Chagnon-Greyeyes would like to see more research into these alternative measures of transport.
Both Sutter and Chagnon-Greyeyes also both touched repeatedly on the importance of Indigenous youth in becoming more educated and how education is the greatest predictor of economic prosperity amongst Indigenous communities.
“I think the youth are getting the message,” said Chagnon-Greyeyes. “Education is the next buffalo, and when you get that piece of paper you can feed your family. And I firmly believe that.”
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