How much are we willing to sacrifice?

DSU holds screening of ‘Crude Sacrifice’

By Shea O’Grady, Contributor

Films that portray the state of environmental destruction in our country stand a fairly poor chance competing with the latest Hollywood blockbuster. We have become saturated in a world of mediocre rom-coms and action movies, where films about the realities of our current predicament generate a collective yawn. It’s hard to get passionate about the next crisis, but perhaps we should.

Douglas college students partook in the college’s second screening of the award-winning, feature-length documentary film, Crude Sacrifice: A Story of Dirty Oil and Democracy on October 8.

Hosted in the Douglas Students’ Union lounge at the New Westminster campus, the movie provided an in-depth look at the effect the exploitation of Alberta’s tar sands has on the residents of Fort Chipewyan, an isolated northern First Nations community living along the shores of the Athabasca River.

Taking viewers beyond the environmental costs by providing personal accounts through interviews with seemingly forgotten Canadians, Crude Sacrifice documents the effects of toxic contamination flowing steadily downstream to the community—effectively ceasing the viability of fishing and hunting.

Extraordinary repercussions abound as viewers witness the disappearance of a way of life the community depends on.

Exposure to the constant barrage of chemical sludge has caused a dramatic increase of extremely rare and fatal cancers to afflict the people of Fort Chipewyan.

The film goes on to present a scathing view of the state of a Canadian democracy that refuses to acknowledge or fix the problems contributing to the deaths of citizens.

The film seeks foremost to answer the question the community is asking themselves: does anybody actually care about the devastation that corporations in the tar sands have inflicted upon the people in the surrounding area?

Member of Parliament Kennedy Stewart attended the screening and sought to help students answer that question during a discussion period after the film.

“One thing we have to ask ourselves in life: are we going to be an agent of change?” he said.

The lesson for students here is that it is essential to partake in the politics of our community to affect any meaningful change we hope to see. Change happens because people demand it.

How do we demand it?

Another guest speaker, Alexandra Swan from the Dogwood Initiative (an active environmental organization in BC), outlined exactly how individuals can affect change by encouraging students to follow these simple steps: educate yourself, show up, participate, and maintain hope.

With the recent upheaval around the Kinder Morgan and Enbridge pipeline proposals in BC, this film highlights a very poignant question about what our own future could look like and whether or not unforeseen circumstances could leave residents of Greater Vancouver in a situation similar to Fort Chipewyan.

If you’re looking for an opportunity to become an agent of change, go to