May 10, 2017

Pacific Islanders fighting climate change react to Alberta Tar Sands visit

“We’ve never seen anything like this”

High Resolution Images from the visit are available upon request

Edmonton, AB – Earlier today, 3 members of the Pacific Climate Warriors, a group of Pacific Islanders visiting Canada from one of the most climate impacted regions of the world, wrapped up a tour of Alberta’s tar sands region.

“What is happening here in Canada has a global impact,” explained Koreti Tiumalu, 350.org’s Pacific Region Coordinator said. “Pacific Islanders are fighting to save our homes and families from rising seas, and whether or not Canada allows unchecked expansion of the tar sands has a huge impact on that, that’s why we’re here.”

During their time in Northern Alberta, the group met with local First Nations and toured the tar sands region on the ground and in the air.

“We’ve never seen anything like this, it’s overwhelming,” Raedena Savea, a member of the Pacific Climate Warriors from Samoa explained. “Seeing the scale of the tar sands, breathing in the pollution in the air, knowing what’s happening to water, the land and the Indigenous peoples, it’s heartbreaking.”  

The tour kicked off a two week trip called the Raise a Paddle tour, with the Pacific Climate Warriors meeting with communities and Indigenous peoples working to stop tar sands expansion across Western Canada. Next, the Pacific Climate Warriors travel to Edmonton to speak alongside community representatives before continuing on to British Columbia, where they will visit the proposed terminus of the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

“Climate leaders don’t build pipelines, it’s that simple,” said Clayton Thomas-Muller, 350.org’s Stop-it-at-the-Source campaigner. “What our governments do in Ottawa, Alberta and BC has a global impact. If we build project’s like Kinder Morgan, it’s like we’re telling people in the Pacific that their islands, their homes, don’t matter. People and politicians in Canada need to understand the real impact of these projects, and see the faces of those people being most impacted by them.”

The Pacific Climate Warriors have invited Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to join a ceremony with them, and led by Indigenous community leaders opposed to the Kinder Morgan pipeline on May 14th in Vancouver.

“Mr. Trudeau was a champion for the 1.5ºC target pushed by Pacific Islanders in Paris, but since then he’s approved Kinder Morgan, just the kind of project that make it impossible for Canada to keep their climate promises – we want to know why,” Tiumalu explained. “That’s why we invited him to join the ceremony, and why we hope he shows up to explain his broken promises.”

To date, over 3000 people have sent messages to Justin Trudeau urging him to accept the invitation.

More information about the Raise a Paddle Tour, including local event times and details, can be found at https://350.org/raise-a-paddle/.

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Contact:  Cameron Fenton, [email protected], 604-369-2155

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