For the last couple of weeks I had been feeling major symptoms of unrest. Perhaps it was the announcement of a majority Conservative government or that I was being represented by a man that was dubbed by my local media as “The Man who wasn’t there”. Perhaps it was the never ending chill and reports of natural disasters or disasters inflicted on nature. For all I know it was most likely a combination of all of these factors and more. Regardless, unrest was among me and the feeling of being consumed by my surroundings was becoming overwhelming. So with this combination, and the lucky occurrence of finding myself without employment, I decided to go up North to visit the site of Alberta’s biggest oil spill in 35 years. I had contacted my friend, Nat Crop Ear Wolf, who works for the Blood Tribe News, and my friend Jessica Trozzo, a local artist, to see if they wanted to join me on the expedition. Luckily enough they would and so we packed our gear, made our plans and went with the grace of God. Little did we know what would unfold.
I want to take the tale of my Northern Alberta adventure slow. We met many beautiful Albertans along the way. All with generous spirits and strength. I feel I owe it to them to best represent them in the best way possible. The hospitality that we encountered just amplified my love towards my country and province. And it is because of this love that I feel I owe it to them to tell their tales with the outmost respect.
As with most adventures we knew not what was to take place. Little did we know we would find ourselves in the midst of the Boreal Forest’s biggest danger once we arrived in Peace River on Sunday. Luckily we had arrived earlier in the day to find our campsite empty (empty it stayed) since every INN/MOTEL/HOTEL was being filled up by evacuated residents from the surrounding area (Little Buffalo, Red Earth Creek, St. Isidore, ect.) because of the outbreaks in forest fires that had started the day before (Saturday May 14th) and continue to be uncontrollable to this day. Luckily, Chief Steve Nosky was kind enough to meet with us in the midst of their evacuation on the Monday so our trip was not made in vain. We even got to tour the Woodland Cree land (we almost got taken to the oil spill but with fires 25 km East and North of the site it was deemed too dangerous) and the Indian Settlement to get a better sense of where we were.
Before I can get to those stories and experiences I feel I need to take the time to build it more. Consider this an introduction to the first chapter of this tale. My eyes have been opened but I feel I need to fill this experience with further knowledge. Instead of finding concrete answers more questions have surfaced and they need to be filled before I can speak. I thought I was setting out to develop a story on oil and nature; little did I know I would come out from fire(s) to tell the story of Alberta and its people that live within it.