Land and Refinery Project

TRU’s Environmental Data Justice Lab is launching its The Land and the Refinery Project. 

The land around Nayaano-nibiimaang Gichigamiin (the Five Great Lakes) has endured pollution from oil extraction longer than any other place on earth.  The Land and the Refinery Project shares research, resources and stories about the the oldest running refinery in the world, the Imperial Oil Refinery in Sarnia’s Chemical Valley on the traditional and of Aamjiwnaang First Nation. The stories that make up Chemical Valley and Imperial Oil help us to understand the changes we need to make for our future.

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The Land and the Refinery website shares ongoing research, archival documents, environmental data, and community knowledge about the relationship between the refinery and the land.

We hope this project will be of service to the Aamjiwnaang community, on whose land this refinery is located. It may also be of interest to educators, the general public and other land protectors. We have created this project with consultation from the Aamjiwanaang Environmental Committee, and have used an ongoing community review process to share and receive feedback about the project and its contents from interested community members. This project is nothing without the direction and contribution of Aamjiwnaang community members, and we invite anyone interested to connect, correct, and contribute in ways big and small.

This project turns the tables on the conventions of research: instead of having university and government researchers study Indigenous people to understand environmental problems, this project has Indigenous researchers investigating a polluter and the role of the government in allowing pollution.

The Land and Refinery project is created by the Environmental Data Justice Lab in the Technoscience Research Unit, University of Toronto.  The project is co-led by environmental researcher and land protector Vanessa Gray (Anishinaabe, Aamjiwnaang First Nation), Professor and Canada Research Chair Michelle Murphy (Métis, Winnipeg), and TRU Lab Manager Kristen Bos (urban Métis), along with lab members Reena Shadaan, and Ladan Siad. The Environmental Data Justice Lab is an Indigenous-led lab that examines, creates tools and responses to the relationships between data, pollution and colonialism. Our project website is designed by Nomadic Labs. Art drawings are by Dylan Miner.

The research for this work is supported by a SSHRC Insight Grant and the establishment of the Environmental Data Justice Lab was supported by a Connaught Global Challenge Award.