SMUS Seniors Embark on a Tar Trek

by Darin Steinkey

Here’s an excerpt from Liam Maclure and Daniel Cameron’s (fictional) summer to do list:

  • cut grass
  • clean room
  • hang out with friends
  • investigate giant multinational oil corporations and the degradation of the environment in small town Alberta
  • play video games

The fourth item on that list is the only one (that I know of) that isn’t fictional. It resulted in the creation of Tar Trek, a documentary on the Tar Sands in Fort McMurray, Alberta. The film was featured on the Huffington Post and will be screened for the SMUS community on November 8th at 7:30pm in the Copeland Lecture Theatre. In addition to the screening, the event includes a discussion about sustainability at the school and in our own lives, as well as a special Q & A session with Liam and Daniel.

In the lead up to his big-screen debut, co-director and SMUS Grade 12 student Liam Maclure explains what the heck he and fellow SMUS Senior, Daniel Cameron, were doing in Fort McMurray, Alberta, on their summer break.

DS: Why did you decide to go to Fort McMurray?

LM: Daniel and I went for a summer project. We went mostly out of pure interest, but I was also taking a course at UVic during the summer and was able to tie in the documentary with the final project.

DS: Did you go there with your minds made up about what you’d learn? If not, how did you keep an open mind?

LM: We tried our best to keep an open mind. Our purpose was to explore both perspectives, pro and against. The industry tour was very pro, but we interviewed many people and read books, both of which informed us of the environmental consequences.

DS: Have you learned anything new since releasing the documentary that you wish you could have added?

LM: The thing that really comes to mind is we learned how ineffective the process of reclaiming the land is. I think it was less than 1% of the land that had been reclaimed, and it is so expensive the companies likely won’t follow through.

DS: Do you plan on taking this issue further? If so, what are you going to do?

LM: Yes! I’m pursuing it as part of my career. My interest is environmental economics, which is directly related to issues like the Tar Sands.

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