When we talk about the Alberta tar sands, a lot of phrases come to mind.
"Summer vacation spot" is generally not one of them.
Unless you're two 17 year old kids from Victoria, BC with big questions about Canada's largest oil reserve and its implications on the future of energy in North America.
Liam and Daniel, like so many boys their age, are not interested in being told what to think and believe. When polarizing discussions around the tar sands began to dominate the media earlier this year, they convinced Liam's parents to allow them the space to make up their own minds. The best way to do that, as Liam wisely says in the film "is to see the tar sands for ourselves."
During their time in Fort McMurray, Liam and Daniel tried to have an unbiased experience. They toured an active tar sands operation and met with working residents. They talked to a doctor at the Fort McMurray hospital treating locals and workers. They stopped off in Calgary to speak with Andrew Nikiforuk, author of a defining book about the tar sands and its impacts on Canada. The resulting 10 minute film of their experiences is thoughtful, earnest and playful, but more than anything - it's honest.
I was happy to help Liam and Daniel during the creation of their documentary. Seeing them go through the process of building and editing this film was to watch the fire of activism and environmental leadership spark.
If you have your own questions about the tar sands, and you're not able to convince your parents to take you there for summer vacation, there are many websites -- both for and against--where you can learn about the process of bitumen mining and its economic and environmental impacts.
If you'd rather see them for yourself, the city of Fort McMurray would be delighted to welcome you. Suncor oil, however, would prefer you didn't take pictures.