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Athabasca Healing Walks a celebration of what our planet has lost

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Remember back in the day when a friend would send you a mix tape? Well here's mine...

In was the summer of 1972 and I filled my backpack with a jacket, sleeping bag, couple of shirts and I hit the highway! I was relying on my thumb to take me across Canada for the first time.

I didn't know it then, but I had taken the first leg of a lifelong road trip. The bush, the flat prairie, the foot hills, mountains and the coast...I saw it all that summer ("Hitchin' a Ride").

I arrived in Edmonton after midnight (having been on the road for more than 40 hours). Tired, hungry and lost, I found myself in a bright orange, yellow and blue Fuller's Restaurant. A policeman spying my backpack asked if I had a place to stay. "No," I said. "Wait here," he replied.

Not long after a long haired guy appeared. "High I'm from CHAOS," he said. Before long I was napping on a tumbling mat in a church hall.

Next day I headed out to Fort Saskatchewan and stayed a few days on a friend's farm. Yes, a farm ("Where Have the Flowers Gone"). Today the farm land is home to a mega-refinery, and CHAOS in Alberta is more reminiscent of Maxwell Smart's nemesis KAOS (definitely not a place for hippies finding beds for hitchhikers).

Back to 2013...

Last Friday morning I was on Canada AM to discuss Apache's 9.5-million litre toxic waste water spill in Northern Alberta.

I was asked to explain what happened. "Explain?" I thought to myself. How can I explain a world hell-bent on destroying itself? Instead, I did what we all sometimes do. I complained. A lot ("Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road"). I complained about the lack of regulation, lack of transparency, about the patronizing company and provincial government, etc.

I could have said, "Hi, I'm from KAOS and so are you."

I'm so glad the Keepers of the Athabasca have invited Sierra Club Canada to join them on their annual Healing Walk (July 5/6 near Fort McMurray). It's not a protest. It's celebration of what was and can be again! I'm in need a spiritual boost these days. I'm in need of friendly faces and promises of a better tomorrow ("Woodstock").

Keepers of the Athabasca is a collection of First Nations, Métis, Inuit, environmental groups, and watershed citizens working together for the protection of water, land and air (and thus for all living things) today and tomorrow in the Athabasca Watershed.

The first Healing Walk took place in 2010 in Fort McMurray (which is situated on Treaty 8 land). I'm lucky enough to be able to go -- you could say I'm bound for Alberta ("Alberta Bound") -- but I know not everyone can attend, so I'd like to take your greetings and well-wishes with me. It's your chance to speak to the people (The Keepers!) on the frontline confronting the "Energy Superpower". Please send them a message of support and let them know they're not alone! Click here to send your message!

Healing Walk participants include Former Chief Francois Paulette, Former Grand Chief Sam Gargon, Chief Bill Erasmus, Chief Allan Adam, Tantoo Cardinal, Wab Kinew, Walter Quinn and Sylvia McAdam (just to name a few). Many allies from the United States are also attending (First Nation and non-First Nation alike). Click here and here for all the details and information on how to get involved.

Photo courtesy of Jesse Cardinal.

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