1st December, 2006
For the Canadian Aanishnaabek tribe, who live on a reserve surrounded by chemical plants, there seems no escape. Do they leave, and abandon their past, or stay, and perhaps lose their future? Zoe Cormier investigates
Stand in the middle of Aamjiwnaang and look straight ahead in any direction. Beneath the trees are small houses, trailer homes, a babbling creek, children scampering about. It looks like any other Canadian native reserve. But it doesn’t smell like one. Instead of crisp breezes and pine needles, the air smells of sulphur and diesel fuel. Lurking behind the trees and the homes are giant smokestacks and gas flares from the massive chemical plants that surround the 2,700-acre reserve. Look closer at the creek and you’ll see a sign that reads: ‘KEEP OUT Talfourd Creek contains toxic substances known to cause serious health risks’. As for the children – very, very few of them are boys.
Down and out in Chemical Valley
Aamjiwnaang (pronounced ‘Om-ji-non’) sits in the middle of Canada’s ‘Chemical Valley’, a cluster of chemical manufacturing plants located just south of the city of Sarnia, in the southern tip of the Canadian province of Ontario. The region prides itself on being home to Canada’s largest industrial zone, one of the largest in North America. There are more than 35 petrochemical, polymer and chemical factories here and more...
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