The First Nation of Aamjiwnaang have been living in Sarnia, Ontario for hundreds of years, but 70 years ago they got some new neighbors that would change their lives forever. The chemical valley is home to the 40% of Canada’s petrochemical industry, producing gasoline, plastics, pesticides, fertilizers, cosmetics and more. Unfortunately, this industry has had a devastating effect on the environment in Sarnia. This city has been named by the World Health Organization as having the worst air quality in all of Canada due to levels of dangerous pollutants and gases being released from these plants.
The people of Aamjiwnaang have reported higher cancer rates and miscarriages than what is seen nationally and yet no proper health studies are being done. In 2013 alone there were three spills of hydrogen sulfide; one sent several small children from Aamjiwnaang’s daycare to the hospital. This has caused tensions between the First Nations community and both the government and petrochemical industry to be high.
To get a better understanding of how this situation is being handled VICE visited Sarnia while a high profile energy conference was taking place. During this time it became clear that more money was being made off oil and other resources at the expense of the people who call Aamjiwnaang home.
If you’re looking for an eye-opening look into this situation then you should watch VICE’s documentary about Aamjiwnaang’s story titled “Beneath The Chemical Valley”. This gripping film follows members of this First Nation community as they fight against environmental damage and attempt to protect their land and livelihoods. It looks at how big industry profits are prioritized over human wellbeing in a global context where justice is often hard to find.
This documentary offers insight into a complex issue rarely discussed with such depth and detail – bringing humanity back into an otherwise faceless debate about big business versus everyday people struggling against overwhelming odds for their basic rights. If you’re looking for an informative view into how our industrial world works then “Beneath The Chemical Valley” is definitely worth your time!