Talfourd Creek: Keep Out

by: Alex
contact: ajmorro10@earlham.edu
13:24 Oct 30 2013 Talfourd Street, Sarnia, ON, Canada

Talfourd Creek: Keep Out
Why should we work towards a Great Lakes Commons and how ?
Below are some thoughts on Talfourd Creek in the Fist Nation of Aamjiwnaang.

This piece is part of a Sociology/Anthropology class at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana.


Having the opportunity to visit a portion of Talfourd creek was a very powerful experience. Talfourd creek used to be a source of life for the people of Aamjiwnaang First Nation Reserve near Sarnia. Children used to play in the water. People used to fish and swim in the creek. From what I understand, Talfourd creek was a beautiful, life sustaining body of water.

The Talfourd creek that my classmates and I saw was nothing like this. Before approaching the creek we were greeted by a sign warning “KEEP OUT”. The skull and crossbones on the sign informed us that Talfourd creek contains toxic substances known to cause serious health risks. Standing there with Ron Plain, an environmental activist member of the First Nations Reserve of Aamjiwnaang who led us on a toxic tour, we learned about how beautiful the creek used to be, and what it has become. Hearing Ron’s story was very powerful. The emotion was palpable. “How do you keep a kid out of water?” he asked us.

I don’t know the answer to that question. But I do know that nowadays Talfourd creek does not support life. The waters are brown and polluted. The surrounding industry has made Talfourd creek lifeless. It can no longer provide fish. It can longer provide a space for children to swim and play. Talfourd creek has been taken away from the people of Aamjiwnaang.

Residents of the Reserve have witnessed trucks dumping unknown substances into the creek. The incentive to maximize profit is what killed Talfourd creek. The greed of a few is what has robbed Talfourd creek from the many.

Talfourd creek is just one example of the uncountable externalities of Sarnia’s chemical valley. What makes the story of Talfourd creek so powerful is the fact that you can see it. Right there in front of us were the visible effects of industrial pollution, but all around us were the less visible effects that are all the more tragic.

The tragedy of Talfourd creek is a tragedy of the loss of a life source, the loss a cultural and social resource. It is the loss of a food source, the loss of a playground, the loss of a habitat, the loss of a familiar space that has existed for generations. The contamination of Talfourd creek is much more than just the loss of a body of water. It is also the contamination of a way of life.
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