Indigenous Environmental Network

Interviews with Ben Powless and Clayton Thomas-Muller

I recently had the opportunity to interview Ben Powless, a young Mohawk from Six Nations in Ontario. Ben is a  member of the Indigenous Environmental Network and a Founder of the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition. Among other causes, he has been very active in the IEN’s tar sands campaign. He also sits on the board of the National Council for the Canadian Environmental Network, is on the Youth Advisory Group to the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, and is very involved in his local Aboriginal community.

In our interview he discusses the impacts of the tar sands on indigenous communities in northern Alberta, their campaign for a moratorium on future tar sands developments and how the IEN is trying to raise awareness internationally about what is going on in Alberta. He characterizes the tar sands as a violation of the constitutionally-guaranteed rights of First Nations people in Canada.

To download the interview, right click here and select ‘Save as’ or ‘Save target as’.

Click the audio player above to hear my interview with Clayton Thomas-Muller of the Indigenous Environmental Network and click the player below to listen to his speech at the PowerShift conference in Ottawa.

With the Copenhagen Climate Summit looming large on the horizon, Canada’s position on greenhouse gas reductions is being severely compromised by the frenzied and voracious expansion of the Alberta tar sands, the world’s biggest industrial source of carbon emissions. In the interview, Clayton discusses the IEN campaign to raise awareness and combat the destructive impacts of tar sands developments on Aboriginal communties in the region. He also talks about the ongoing international anti-tar sands campaign, why he feels the tar sands is a human rights and aboriginal treaty rights issue, and he lays out some of the actions people can take to support the IEN campaign.

Clayton Thomas-Muller, of the Mathais Colomb Cree Nation (Pukatawagan) in Northern Manitoba is an activist for indigenous self-determination and environmental justice, and is the tar sands campaign organizer for the IEN.

In his many years of organizing in Aboriginal communities, Clayton has gained vast experience in grassroots movement building, organizational development (fund raising), strategic campaign planning and policy development. With his roots in the inner city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Clayton’s began his activist career fighting against disparities in the Aboriginal community as a result of poverty and Winnipeg’s youth gang epidemic.

Until recently, he served as the Native Energy organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network. Clayton has been on the front lines of stopping industrial society’s assault on Indigenous Peoples lands to extract resources and to dump toxic wastes. He has worked across Canada, Alaska and the lower 48 states with grassroots indigenous communities to defend their Inherit, Treaty and environmental rights against unsustainable energy policies and transnational energy corporations.

Clayton Thomas-Muller speech to PowerShift conference in Ottawa (Oct 2009):

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