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While most of my time organizing with 350.org has been spent in Latin America, I've always been interested in what's going on with the climate movement in Canada. A large part of my family comes from the Maritimes, the eastern provinces of Canada, and I've spent nearly every summer of my life in the eastern province of Nova Scotia.  Over the summers, my brother and I met cousins and new friends that we wrote letters (yeah, real letters!) to during the rest of the year.

As we got older, some of these friends stopped being around when we'd come to visit in the summer.   Many of my parents' friends were gone too, having had to leave their families in search of work.  When we'd asked we'd learn that they were off in Alberta at Fort McMurray, or "Fort McMoney" as many people around came to call it.  That was where the new oil boom – the tar sands – was beginning, and was becoming one of the only employment option for people in the Maritimes where jobs were and continue to be scarce following the near collapse of the fishing and coal industries.

As I grew older and became a climate activist, I began to learn the scale and scope of destruction that the tar sands represented for local communities and environments, and of course for our climate.  At the same time, I understood they represented perhaps the only available livelihoods for many people I knew, capturing the classic jobs vs. the environment perception.  

For a long time, I didn't get very far in conversations designed to get at what people thought about the environmental and climate impacts of the tar sands – they meant employment and that was enough.  But now that's shifting, both for practical reasons (a new report shows the federal government could create 3 times more jobs by investing in clean energy than its current stimulus plan that includes fossil fuel subsidies) and more importantly for the moral reasons that the tar sands are irreparably poisoning Alberta's rivers and indigenous communities, and releasing enormous amounts of greenhouse gases into the air that are compromising our climate for Canada's future generations.  This Saturday across Canada and the world, citizens will take to the streets for the International "Stop the Tar Sands Day" to demand an end to this destructive and short-sighted source of energy, and a beginning to a healthy, clean energy future.

For more information on the tar sands and the day of action, please visit this helpful background story, plus read the call to action below:

The Candian tar sands are the largest industrial project on the planet, and one of biggest threats to a safe climate future.

 

Right now, we're at about 392 "parts per million" CO2 — way over 350, what scientists say is the safe level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere for maintaining a safe climate. That's why we're already seeing record-breaking storms, floods, wildfires, and droughts. If we burned all the oil that's stored in the the Canadian tar sands, we'd add about 200 ppm CO2 — thinking about a world near 600ppm is downright terrifying.
 
Our best hope of defusing this carbon bomb is a groundswell of people speaking out and taking action. That's why we're spreading the word about a big event happening this weekend: "The International Stop the Tar Sands Day." There are events happening all over the world, and in almost every major city throughout Canada.
 
Why now? Major efforts are underway to expand the amount of tar sands oil exported from Canada to refineries in  the United States, so we’re teaming up with our allies to make sure this that carbon stays in the ground.
 
On June 18, take part in a tar sands action near you and show your support for a safe climate: www.350.org/june18
 
Extracting and burning tar sands oil is dirty and dangerous – a barrel of tar sands oil contributes 15% more CO2 per barrel to our atmosphere than average crude oil.   The extraction process in Alberta is destroying Canada’s forests, trampling indigenous rights, poisoning our atmosphere and river systems, threatening community health, and contributing to global climate change.  
 
To find an action in a city near you, or organize your simple event with a banner or sign, please click here: www.350.org/june18
 
We know to get to 350ppm, we need to move past fossil fuels — and stopping the tar sands is a key step in moving to a clean energy future for Canada and the whole planet. We hope you´ll join in the action this week — and use this weekend's energy to get fired up and inspired for Moving Planet international day of climate action coming up on September 24th.

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