Today is International Women's Day and I would like to take the opportunity to shine a spotlight on a highly motivated, resourceful, astute and fierce defender of First Nations' constitutionally protected treaty rights - Crystal Lameman of Beaver Lake Cree Nation (Amiskosâkahikanihk) Alberta, Canada.
I spent memorable time with Crystal and her family whilst making my photo essay called Kanata with Greenpeace detailing the pernicious and malignant encroachment of the energy industry on indigenous peoples of north eastern Canada - Crystal is a true force of nature.
Beaver Lake Cree Nation vs Alberta and Canada
Crystal's international profile has risen exponentially in recent years as she has become the public face and primary campaigning driver behind Beaver Lake Cree's highly complex lawsuit against the Canadian government and the province of Alberta. The lawsuit is a reaction to the government's reckless issuing of 19,000 licenses to multiple energy companies, for both exploratory development and extraction of fossil fuels (namely unconventional oil deposits and gas) and those processes' industrial fragmentation of both virgin Boreal forest and water sources throughout their territory.
Since her uncle Chief Alphonse Lameman (represented by Woodward & Co. Lawyers LLP who took the lawsuit to court in 2008) retired after 33 years as Chief of Beaver Cree Nation in 2011, Crystal has taken over the responsibility of driving the campaign(s) supporting a successful case outcome - not only for her homeland but also the positive consequences (leading from a successful outcome) for Aboriginal communities across the other provinces and territories of Canada.
In drastically raising awareness of BCLN's plight, Crystal has received a Global Exchange Grassroots Award (whilst sharing the stage with fellow awardee Noam Chomsky), she has been profiled by the prestigious Nobel Women's Initiative and is strongly featured in the soon-to-be-released film by Avi Lewis made in conjunction with Naomi Klein's latest book This Changes Everything.
You can also read an insightful, award wining article written by Arno Kopecky called 'Game Changer', which documents his travels with Crystal across Beaver Cree Lake Nation's land in depth's of winter. Click here.
4) My photo essay Kanata (tip - look for the '+' symbol in the top right corner of any photo to view large).