“It is my obligation as a mother, my obligation to my ancestors to ensure we have our rights respected. It’s my obligation to my future generations and most of all to our own true mother—something each and every one of us in here has in common. That obligation can never be surrendered. We are keepers of the land, stewards of the land. Every single thing that a human being needs to survive is here in Canada.”
Crystal is a Beaver Lake Cree Nation activist, a Sierra Club Prairie Chapter Climate and Energy Campaigner in Alberta, Canada – and a mother of two. With infectious dedication and passion, Crystal is committed to restoring Native treaty rights and stopping the expansion of the tar sands.
Crystal is the first young woman in her family to receive two university degrees. While she has all the credentials to make a decent living as a teacher, Crystal feels it is her obligation as a mother to protect her land and culture for her children and future generations. She now spends most of her days speaking out about the exploitation of the tar sands, of her people, and of their land and seeking accountability for violations of their treaty rights.
We met Crystal during a delegation the Nobel Women’s Initiative led in October to the tar sands of Alberta, Canada. During our time with her, she shared the urgent concerns of her nation, the Beaver Lake Cree. “We have every major oil company in our traditional hunting territory,” she told us. “And none with permission to be there.”
Crystal is involved in the work of her nation to take the Canadian government to court over 17,000 treaty violations. In May 2008, the Beaver Lake Cree Nation filed a Statement of Claim in Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench taking the Government of Canada to court. In March 2012, they were granted a trial. This trial stands as a precedent for other oil sands rights violations.
Crystal says many in her community are afraid to speak out, for fear of losing their jobs in the oil sands industry. These challenges seem to make Crystal more determined to speak out: “It should never be right that you have to decide between your morals, values, who you are as an indigenous person over feeding your family.”
Crystal conveys her message with power and clarity—these blatant rights violations are “not okay.” In her words: “As an Indigenous person of Canada I have constitutionally protected rights, as do my children, and it is my responsibility to ensure that I, my children, my future generations will always have that ability to go to the land to hunt, fish, and forage. My goal is to preserve and revitalize our rights as Indigenous people.”
Court Allows Beaver Lake Cree to Challenge Tar Sands, Watershed Sentinel, 29 March 2012.
Crystal Lameman Presentation (video), PowerShift Canada 2012, 4 Nov 2012.
Finally! A win for the Beaver Lake Cree – their case WILL go to trial!, RAVEN, 29 March 2012.
Support the Beaver Lake Cree Nation’s fight against Tar Sands, Nobel Women's Initiative, 16 Nov 2012.
Women are knocking it out of the park for the Beaver Lake Cree!, RAVEN, 17 Oct 2012.