Estella Pederson is a member of Cowessess First Nation. She currently resides and works in Fort McMurray.
To hear it from oil sands critics, politicians and activists, Indigenous people in the oil sands are a contradiction. Surely, they cannot exist. Or if they do, they are surely victims of a predatory resource industry, or are colonized sellouts. So I thought I’d share my own story.
I’m an Ojibwe woman. Life was very hard growing up. I was brought up in an abusive environment, and my family was mostly dependent on government assistance for income.
I ran away from home several times as a teenager to escape this lifestyle. I did complete high school although there were only a handful of other Indigenous students in my graduating class. Most of my Indigenous peers quit at middle school.
I eventually moved to the city, married young, went to college, which I paid for myself, had children and got divorced. I often worked two or three jobs to support my family and still struggled to make ends meet.
One day, I decided to apply to work in the oil sands in Fort McMurray. I didn’t know anyone there but I was determined to make a change – and yes, of course, as with almost any job, there were financial motivations.
For the rest of this column: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-im-an-indigenous-woman-who-works-in-albertas-oil-sands-and-i-can/