Tag Archives: Alberta

First Nation wants Controversial Sculpture by New York Artist Taken Down

The Bowfort Towers

A First Nation near Calgary is calling on the city to remove a controversial piece of public art that has previously drawn criticism from those who don’t like the $500,000 price tag as well as those who just don’t like its looks.

On Tuesday, Kevin Littlelight of the Tsuu T’ina First Nation lambasted the sculpture by New York artist Del Geist, which is called “Bowfort Towers” and is located near Canada Olympic Park.

Littlelight called the sculpture — consisting of steel beams and Alberta rundle stones — offensive, saying it appears to emulate Indigenous burial scaffolding.

Littlefield said the First Nation believes that attempting to reflect Indigenous symbolism without collaborating with local artists and elders “is not reflective of other recent steps by Calgary City Hall to respect Treaty 7 Nations.”

Geist, who grew up in North Dakota, has previously said he did speak with Blackfoot elders and has said the use of four towers in the piece is a nod to the traditional significance of the number, but has denied accusations of cultural appropriation.

The use of rock and steel has long been a staple for the artist, whose work has been displayed around the world for more than 40 years.

“As an artist, using the natural sciences as a palette, he has developed major site-specific artworks throughout the U.S. and Europe,” reads the biography on his website.

“His environmental artworks elicit unique qualities inherent to a place, fostering a viewer’s direct sensory experience. The stone and earth, metaphorically, contain the natural history of a region and its geology, capturing the spirit and flavour of an area.”

City councillor Sean Chu, a vocal opponent of public funding for the arts, called the sculpture “the worst kind of wasteful spending of tax dollars” while many on social media have criticized the look of the piece. One person suggested it belonged in a recycling bin.

Indigenous artist Adrian Stinson argued it’s up to municipalities to do a better job of vetting art projects.

“The artist needs to show the group what they’re working on so that people can actually give input to say, ‘oh you know, there’s a red flag — that’s too close to a brutal platform, you might want to rethink that because you’re going to offend people,’ ” he said.

Littlelight said this could be an opportunity for the city to learn from its failures, adding the First Nation would like to see elders and cultural experts help in the next step moving forward.

“There’s great artists that are Albertans, Aboriginal artists that are Albertans, southern Albertans, cowboys, Indians, that should be our focus and we should be pushing that,” he said. “Nobody comes to Calgary to look at New York art.”

He said he has some empathy for Geist.

“I can’t really speak for him but it is a strike out,” he said. “What do you do? You have to rebuild and if I was the artist I would reach out to the art community of Treaty 7 and redo things. Diego Rivera was a great artist, he had to redo art all the time, it’s no different here.”

The Canadian Press


Enbridge Pipeline Leaks 200,000 Litres of Oil Condensate in Strathcona County

Enbridge has shut down five nearby pipelines as a precaution, the National Energy Board says. (Martin Weaver/CBC)

Enbridge has shut down five nearby pipelines as a precaution, the National Energy Board says. (Martin Weaver/CBC)

The pipeline was damaged by a third-party line strike caused by construction in the area, Enbridge says

CBC News | Feb 18, 2017

Cleanup efforts are underway after an Enbridge pipeline leaked 200,000 litres of oil condensate at an industrial site in Strathcona County, Alberta.

The Line 2A pipeline was damaged by a third-party line strike involving Ledcor and TransCanada who were doing construction in the area on Friday afternoon, Enbridge said in a media release.

Enbridge immediately shut down five other pipelines in the area as a precaution. Crews are now working to clean up the spill, which is contained in an excavation pit.

Air quality is being monitored, Enbridge says.

The National Energy Board was notified of the spill Friday at around 3 p.m.

NEB staff have been called to the site east of Edmonton to oversee cleanup and remediation of any environment effects caused by the spill.

Around 200,000 litres — or 1250 barrels — of oil condensate has leaked from the pipeline. No one was injured, there was no fire and no evacuations were ordered as a result of the spill, the NEB said.

‘There is no product that has travelled off-lease’

There is no risk to public safety, NEB spokesman Darin Barter said.

“The incident is still under investigation. All of the product is actually contained within a pit that was being excavated at the time, so there is no product that has travelled off-lease,” Barter said.

Oil condensate is a “very light” oil that is produced from a gas formation and turns into a liquid as it enters a pipeline, Barter said.

It is usually used for fuel at refiners or for other industrial purposes, he added.

Barter could not say how long cleanup would take, but said NEB staff will remain on-site for as long as they’re required.

“I know they’re making good progress right now,” he said.

“We want to see all of it cleaned up as soon as possible. It’s not in a sensitive area, it’s within a pipeline right of way. But any time you have product outside a pipeline, we want to make sure it’s done properly.”

The Enbridge facility in Strathcona County, Alberta. (Martin Weaver/CBC)

The Enbridge facility in Strathcona County, Alberta. (Martin Weaver/CBC)


Fort McMurray Wildfire: How Canadians Can Help

A raging wildfire has forced the evacuation of the entire northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray, and the evacuees of the oilsands city have captured unbelievable scenes as they escaped the inferno. peter_pdp via Instagram

A raging wildfire has forced the evacuation of the entire northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray, and the evacuees of the oilsands city have captured unbelievable scenes as they escaped the inferno. peter_pdp via Instagram

May 4, 2016

A wildfire that raged through Fort McMurray Tuesday night caused widespread damage in several neighbourhoods, including Beacon Hill, where 80 per cent of the homes were destroyed.

The wildfire has forced the evacuation of the entire northern Alberta city as officials warned, “the worst of the fire is not over.”

LIVE UPDATES: Fort McMurray wildfire

First responders, firefighters and emergency personnel are working on taming the fires while taking in evacuees fleeing from their homes.

“It’s quite surreal. We’ve seen the images on TV and we’re hearing from our teams on the ground there, that it’s rapidly evolving. We know that in the last 12 to 24 hours it’s dramatically changed and many people have had to evacuate,” Chiran Livera, deputy director of disaster management for the Red Cross, told Global News.

Here’s how Canadians can help and what you should do if you’re in need.

How to help:

Donate: The Red Cross issued an emergency appeal for monetary donations that’ll cover immediate food supplies and shelter costs for evacuees, Livera said. Getting evacuees tended to, fed and with a roof over their heads is their primary priority. After that, funding could help with community rebuilding. You can make a donation on the Red Cross website, call 1-800-418-1111 or text REDCROSS to 30333 to make a $5 donation.

Provide supplies: While the Red Cross is focusing solely on monetary donations, a community group on Facebook is appealing for emergency supplies that Fort McMurray residents may need. Locals are encouraged to post at NEEDING while volunteers respond to their requests.

There is a closed Facebook group — meaning you have to request to sign up — called YMM Helping Others that’s become a valuable resource. Another Facebook group named Fort McMurray Everything Goes is providing gas for those who are stranded.

Volunteer: Both the Red Cross and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo are accepting volunteers. Livera said the Red Cross has deployed its trained volunteers in the region but that Canadians can apply online.

If you need help:

People who have been evacuated from affected regions can call the Red Cross’ around-the-clock hotline with questions or to register that they’re safe at 1-888-350-6070. Registering is key, Livera says. It helps family members reconnect and enables response workers to mobilize more resources.

READ MORE: Wildfire burns through Fort McMurray, destroys homes in wake

The Red Cross, among other organizations, is live tweeting updates as more information pours in.

Camps to house evacuees have opened up. A full list can be foundhere.

Another 1,300 rooms are available at Black Diamond’s Sunday Creek Lodge about 15 kilometres south of Conklin. Here’s the lodge’s website.

If you’ve been evacuated, officials are asking you to email  wildfire@rmwb.ca with your name, location, and confirmation of your safety.

READ MORE: Where to go if you’ve been evacuated

Facebook also has its safety-check for the Fort McMurray fire so you can check in that you’re safe, notifying your social media community immediately.

On Twitter, the hashtags tied to the Fort McMurray fires are #ymmhelp, #ymmfire#ymm and #abfire.

Key accounts to follow:

@RMWoodBuffalo The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is sharing wildfire updates along with safe evacuation routes.

@511Alberta is also sharing live updates on road conditions, closures and routes to safely leave evacuated zones.

@RedCrossAB and @redcrosscanada are also posting updates on evacuation numbers, help being deployed and how Canadians can assist.

LIVE UPDATES: Fort McMurray wildfire

 Click here for a full list of Fort McMurray wildfire coverage.

Listen: 630 CHED is providing ongoing live coverage of the state of emergency in Fort McMurray.


Alberta First Nation Chief And Council Vote To Take Drug Tests


Chief and council at Samson Cree First Nation in central Alberta voted this week to take drug tests. (CBC)

CBC News Posted: Mar 11, 2016

Leaders on Samson Cree First Nation decided to show leadership this week, so they all agreed to be tested

An Alberta First Nation that has been plagued in recent years by drugs and gang violence took an unusual step this week — the chief and council all took drug tests.

The idea came from Mario Swampy, a councillor on the Samson Cree First Nation.

At a meeting on Tuesday, Swampy said he made a motion that was seconded by chief Kurt Buffalo and approved unanimously.

Two days later, the chief and councillors were tested for drugs.

“There’s a lot of negativity when it comes to First Nations,” Swampy said. “It’s no secret that we struggle with a lot of social dysfunction.

“We at the leadership level, we have to set an example for our members, for our administration, for our people.”

As word spread through the community, Swampy said, people in band management and administration, and members themselves, asked if they too could get involved.

“I thought that was really an awesome step in the right direction,” he said, “for others within our nation to kind of step up to that and say, ‘We want to be an example also.’ ”

Results of council’s drug tests will be revealed to band members.

“There’s a high expectation on leaders to be leaders,” Swampy said.

“I think the best way we can combat a lot of the negativity we see and hear in the media, is just by reversing that and demonstrating through by our actions that … there’s a lot of positive stuff going on on First Nations, and we shouldn’t shy away from demonstrating that as well.”


Fentanyl Epidemic Grips Blood Reserve In Southwestern Alberta

Dr. Susan Christenson, who runs the Levern Health Clinic on the western edge of Alberta's Blood Reserve, has been battling an epidemic linked to fentanyl use. She describes the withdrawal symptoms of the drug as Dantes Inferno. (Bill Graveland/Canadian Press )

Dr. Susan Christenson, who runs the Levern Health Clinic on the western edge of Alberta’s Blood Reserve, has been battling an epidemic linked to fentanyl use. She describes the withdrawal symptoms of the drug as Dantes Inferno. (Bill Graveland/Canadian Press )

By Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Drug pushers often wait outside clinic where addicts go to try to kick deadly habit

“Dementors” are leaving a trail of death and destruction on the sprawling Blood reserve in southwestern Alberta.

Dr. Susan Christenson uses the term — borrowed from the soul-consuming phantoms in the “Harry Potter” series — for the drug pushers she says will often wait outside her Levern Health Clinic trying to lure back patients attempting to escape fentanyl’s grasp.

“They’re like dark ghosts who are trying to trip you up. They’re trying to drag you back and take your soul and that’s what the addiction is,” says Christenson, a member of the band.

“You can’t do anything but feed the receptors in your brain. They show up at night, shake a bottle of pills in their face and will grind them up because most of the people will snort it like cocaine.”

Fentanyl drugs seized in Calgary

Roughly $40,000 worth of fentanyl was seized in Calgary drug raid. (ALERT)

The crystal-blue, snow-capped Rockies to the west and the silver ribbons of the Belly and Waterton rivers give the Blood reserve an idyllic appearance. But looks can be deceiving.

Canada’s largest reserve is on the front lines of a fentanyl epidemic that is sweeping across Western Canada.

Fentanyl, an opioid up to 100 times more powerful than heroin, is used as a painkiller for terminal cancer patients. But on the streets it has emerged as an Oxycontin replacement after that drug’s formula was changed to make it harder to abuse.

Fentanyl has been blamed in more than 650 deaths across Canada in the last six years. The problem is especially acute in Western Canada, where Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Alberta have all announced programs to distribute the antidote naloxone in take-home kits.

Ontario recently passed a private-member’s bill that forces people who take the drug through a skin patch to turn in their used patch before getting a new one.

Sixteen overdose deaths in the first three months of 2015 prompted the Blood band to declare a state of emergency. The death toll is now more than 20. Of the roughly 10,000 band members, as many as 300 are believed hooked on the drug.

“We still have the overdoses, but not as many deaths,” says prescription drug co-ordinator Gayle Chase. “I think we’ve been able to contain that. For a while there was one every week.”

Teens as young as 13 using the drug

Chase says initially the victims were in their 20s and 30s, but now teens as young as 13 are using.

Christenson has about 100 patients taking Suboxone, a non-addictive medication used to treat opioid addiction.

“Maybe 40 to 50 per cent of the patients do extremely well and they get their lives back,” Christenson says. “They start to experience joy in life … they can get employment. Their health is better.”

But she compares the withdrawal to “Dante’s Inferno.”

“These people are in unbelievable hell, total body pain, vomiting, retching, unable to sleep, severe depression, sweating. It’s like misery. I think Dante did a good job of describing it and it is hell.”

Kyle Drewniak, 29, says he became hooked after years of alcohol and cocaine abuse. It initially made him ill, but eventually he had to have it.

“When I didn’t have it, I was dope sick. It’s just torture. You’re restless, you can’t sleep, half the time you have diarrhea, runny nose. You feel like you’ve got a flu and I’m realizing the only way to feel better is to get high,” Drewniak explains.

He went to rehab, but quickly started using again. It was only when he hit rock bottom that he sought help a second time.

“I’m not eating and I’m not sleeping. I am completely weak. I would wake up and do two pills right off the bat. I was legitimately scared,” he remembers.

“You hear people dying off of one bad pill and I’m doing one in a whole line just to start my day. I knew the end was probably coming and it was just a matter of time before something inside me quit.”

Police in nearby Lethbridge, Alta., realized 18 months ago that there was a new drug in play.

Staff Sgt. Rod Klassen said since the pills cost about 50 cents to make and sell from $20 to $40 each, there’s no shortage of dealers.

Unlike Oxycontin, there’s no quality control.

“This is home-made. They’re pressing it into a pill. Nobody has had any training. They’re making these pills strictly for money and they’re getting rich,” Klassen says.

“It doesn’t take much to have a lethal overdose. It’s extremely addictive.

“Once you start it, there’s no stopping.”