Avatar, Oil Sands and the Amazon

March 23, 2011 - 10:00pm to 11:30pm

ConocoPhillips IRIS Public Seminar 

Field Notes from the Energy Indigenous Environment Interface Research Program 

The most commercially successful film in history deals with indigenous peoples and industrial resource extraction to feed humanity's growing consumption of energy. Although set in a futuristic world on the fictitious planet of Pandora, parallels to the Amazon jungle and Alberta’s oil sands have not been lost on the public. This was underscored by director James Cameron’s recent trip to Brazil supporting indigenous Amazonians opposition to the Bel Monte dam followed by a tour of Alberta’s oil sand operations and meetings with First Nations.

This talk is the first public sharing of initial findings from the Energy Indigenous Environment Interface research program, funded by ISEEE and SSHRC, where Dr. David Lertzman has been collecting primary data with Achuar people of the Ecuadorian Amazon and Cree people of Alberta's northern boreal forest. Both cases in this comparative analysis highlight indigenous people whose way of life depends upon pristine forest ecosystems also rich with fossil fuels. The Achuar of Ecuador are entirely opposed to petroleum development seeing it as a "death project" for their people. The Little Red River Cree are working with industry to engage more socially and environmentally responsible behaviours. We will see how these real world cases are far more compelling, urgent and instructive than the fictitious world of Pandora giving insight into tools and best practices for improving the ecological, social and cross-cultural performance of industry and communities. 

Biography:  Dr. David Lertzman is Assistant Professor of Environmental Management and Sustainable Development at the Haskayne School of Business and Senior Associate with the International Resource Industries & Sustainability Centre. His work with indigenous peoples for over 20 years puts him at the forefront of efforts to bridge traditional ecological knowledge and Western science in sustainable development. David’s passion for ecology and culture has brought him to indigenous communities throughout the Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains, Great Plains, Eastern Woodlands, Boreal Forests, Mexico and the Amazon. Dr. Lertzman teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on leadership and sustainable development with indigenous peoples. His innovative Wilderness Retreat has been recognized in numerous business magazines. His new Applied Leadership initiative partners MBAs and undergrads to work on projects in service to social enterprise. Dr. Lertzman holds a PhD in Ecological Sustainability and Community Development from UBC and is a Research Associate of the Arctic Institute of North America. He is a recipient of the prestigious Reverend Dr. Chief John Snow Sr. Award for academic achievement in research and teaching service dedicated to Aboriginal peoples. 

RSVP:  Lesley DiMarzo, Due to the generous support provided by our partners, seminars are free and open to all. Light refreshments will be served. To receive notifications of future IRIS events, email: [email protected] or phone: (403) 220-6073.



RGO Room, 4th Floor Scurfield Hall
University of Calgary
Calgary , AB