This post was originally published by Causes’ partner Amazon Watch on April 18, 2012. Amazon watch supports indigenous communities in South America by preserving the rainforest and preventing human rights abuses. All opinions are the blogger’s own and do not reflect the views of this blog.
By: Gregor MacLennan
This weekend four Achuar leaders will travel from deep in the Amazon rainforest to Canada to confront Talisman Energy for drilling for oil in their ancestral territory. The group will travel to Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver to raise awareness about how oil drilling threatens their way of life and the health of their rainforest ecosystem, and will visit First Nations in the tar sands of Northern Alberta and on the British Columbian coast to build alliances to defend indigenous territories from destructive extractive industries.
This is an arduous six-day journey for Peas, Jiyukam, Ampush and Puwaanch from their rainforest home to the very different world of Canada, but the Achuar nation have sent them with an important message for the Canadian people: Canadian company Talisman Energy must stop drilling for oil in their ancestral territory and hunting and fishing grounds.
Meet the Achuar delegates as they prepare for this epic journey:
Ampush (Lucas) Ayui Chayat
“My people have elected me to travel to Canada to tell the world about how Talisman’s oil drilling puts our lives in danger. I have heard that Canada is an advanced and developed country in terms of technology. It’s also far away, and cold, and I imagine very different to here, and people live differently to us. But we are all people and we are all equal.”
Lucas is a teacher from the village of Wijint on the Huitoyacu River. He chose this career because all the teachers used to be from other cultures, so he studied so that he could teach his own people. He has four children. His oldest daughter wants to be a teacher; his son wants to be a carpenter. Each is forming their own ideas about their future and he wants to help them realize their dreams.
Puwaanch Kintui Antich
“Talisman wants to ‘develop us’, but this is not development, we just want them to leave us in peace.”
Puwaanch met her husband Ampush in Puranchim village and they moved to Wijint so Ampush could teach at the high school there. She wants her children to study for a better future, to defend their land. Puwaanch spends her time making ceramics, working on her farm, and hunting in the rainforest together with her husband. She hunts with her loyal dog, fishes with huaca plants, and gathers suri (palm grubs).
Peas Peas Ayui
“Talisman is abusing our rights. This is my second trip to Canada to confront Talisman’s directors and tell them that the Achuar people do not want Talisman drilling in our territory, and explain the problems Talisman is causing in our land.”
Peas is from the village of Wisum on the Huitoyacu. He is a teacher and president of the national Achuar federation, FENAP, working to serve his people. He has seven young children between 2 and 14 years old. He worries about his children when he travels, but he needs to make sacrifices in order to fight so that his children can grow up and inherit a healthy territory where they can continue to live as Achuar people.
Jiyukam (Lucas) Irar Miik
“I know that there are indigenous people in Canada, like us. When I get to Canada I want to ask them what is their experience of oil companies, and how have indigenous people developed in Canada? I want to share our problems and our vision for the future, and hear their experiences.”
Jiyukam is the oldest member of the delegation, and a respected leader and elder. He has worked for six years as President of the Achuar organization ORACH of the Huasaga River. He currently works as a teacher in his village, Rubina. He has four children, two daughters who have started a family and two sons who are studying in the town of San Lorenzo.