The Lubicon Lake Band is a Cree speaking community whose reserve lands are centered on the village of Little Buffalo, Alberta. This tiny northern community, about a five-hour drive north of Edmonton is where Melina was born. Immersed in her culture, traditions and greatly influenced by the teachings of her Cree speaking grandparents at an early age, Melina has become a staunch defender of her territory, her people’s rights and the wisdom of Indigenous knowledge. In 2011, an oil spill dumped over 4 million liters of oil onto her Nations’ traditional territory affecting beaver ponds, muskeg and densely forested area. It remains today the largest oil spill in Alberta in over fifty years. Already a defender of the environment, the event galvanized Melina’s activism and motivated her on a journey that has made her one of Canada’s foremost climate change campaigners. For over a decade, Melina’s worked as a climate change campaigner based in Ft. McMurray Alberta, the epicenter of the Oil Sands project. Today she is an internationally recognized climate activist and a much sought-after speaker whose knowledge, passion and culture make her the ideal host for Power to the People.
Launching her Power to the People journey, host Melina returns to her roots and travels back to Little Buffalo to attend her Nations’ annual culture camp, an event that honors the passing of her sister Bella. As we meet her family and experience her deep connection to her culture and community, we come to see how the oil spill in her Nation’s traditional territory has motivated Melina’s life’s work. She returns to Ft. McMurray to connect with old friends and examine the health and social impacts of Oil Sands expansion. After a decade of climate change advocacy in the Oil Sands, Melina reveals how that experience has shaped her and allowed her to realize Lubicon Solar, a solar powered solution that today powers up her community’s Health Center.