In early July, the indigenous peoples of Canada, also known as the First Nations, gather with friends and supporters in the northern reaches of the Alberta province for the Annual Tar Sands Healing Walk. Started 5 years ago in response to the continued destruction of their lands and water supply, this 14 km walk around the SynCrude oil fields is both a protest and a religious rite.
People from all across North America travel to this remote region to pray and provide healing energy to the Earth and the indigenous peoples whose lives are being impacted by the environmentally devastating extraction methods used by the oil industry.
Once a part of the virgin boreal forest, the land north of Fort McMurray has been stripped of all plant and animal life. What was once a dense, green pine tree forest now resembles a middle-eastern desert. Tailing ponds 5 football fields long are filled with chemically polluted water. Air cannons on a random sequence go off to scare of migrating birds. It is a place where the impact of humanity on our planet sinks in deeper than the oil they are extracting.
Visit any time of year to view the dichotomy of nature versus natural resource extraction or plan to come to the annual healing walk to witness indigenous rituals and the path to healing.
In either case, you will leave questioning our current practices and wonder what new ways you can find to fuel your wanderlust.