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In Northern Alberta, Canada, sit the Athabasca tar sands—the world’s largest known reservoir of crude bitumen, and a major driver of Canada’s economy. The vast majority of Canadian oil production comes from extracting and processing the crude bitumen found in the tar sands. But while Canada prospers off the tar sands industry, Indigenous communities downstream are in the grips of its toxic impact. It is well documented that the people of Fort Chipewyan, in northern Alberta, have been struck by disproportionately high rates of cancer, and their proximity to the tar sands has long been the suspected dominant factor contributing to their sickness.

In a new feature documentary, “Killer Water,” award-winning journalist Brandi Morin and award-winning filmmaker/director Geordie Day delve deep into the heart of the environmental crisis plaguing the Alberta oil sands, uncovering the hidden truths that have long been ignored. The film exposes the detrimental impact of toxic tailings ponds leakage on the delicate ecosystems, water sources, and human life in and around Fort Chipewyan. Through stunning visuals and compelling narratives, viewers are taken on a journey that highlights the injustices faced by the Indigenous community living in the shadow of this industrial development.

“Killer Water” was produced in partnership with The Real News , IndigiNews, and Ricochet. The documentary and an accompanying transcript will be co-published on November 24, 2023.

Pre-Production: Brandi Morin, Geordie Day, Ethan Cox, Andrea Houston, Cara McKenna, Eden Fineday, Maximillian Alvarez, Kayla Rivara
Studio Production: Geordie Day
Post-Production: Brandi Morin, Geordie Day, Ethan Cox, Andrea Houston, Cara McKenna, Eden Fineday, Maximillian Alvarez, Kayla Rivara


Speaker 1:  They said it’s supposed to be safe to drink, so I don’t know, would you feed your family this? I know that that’s not natural, because I’ve been on the river my whole life.

Allan Adam:  We can’t allow our water to be tainted, and this is going to court.

Speaker 2:  Official investigation into the Imperial Oil Kearl facility.

Allan Adam:  For 10 months, this leak went unreported despite the Alberta regulator and the oil sands operators being fully aware of what was going on.

Speaker 3:  They were already hiding something, acting big oil.

Allan Adam:  They can be giants and walk over us and everything, but you take out their knees, they will fall regardless of what…

Speaker 3:  Industry is untouchable. It owns, it owns this province, controls everything.

Speaker 4:  We see the beauty of our community, but that all comes with a cost.

Speaker 3:  Chemicals in these tailings ponds are class one carcinogens for humans and animals.

Speaker 5:  They don’t look for a number of compounds, don’t look in the areas where they might find it. It’s been an effective strategy.

Speaker 6:  Seeing other people die from rare cancers, bile duct cancers, you can’t tell me there’s something not wrong here.

Allan Adam:  We’re watching our own grandchildren or our own kids pass away with diseases of cancer, and we can’t do nothing.

Speaker 3:  Cancer in children represents the canary in the mine.

Speaker 7:  Those increased rates of cancer, mental health. I’ve never seen Alberta Health or the provincial government do anything for communities based on that report.

Allan Adam:  For some reason, it has become my job to remind this government of its duties and its responsibilities. The innocent killer looks so beautiful, but yet, it’s a killer.

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Brandi Morin is an award-winning Cree/Iroquois/French journalist from Treaty 6 territory in Alberta. For the last 10 years Brandi has specialized in sharing Indigenous stories, some of which helped spark change and reconciliation in Canada’s political, cultural and social landscapes. Her most notable work has appeared in publications and on networks including National Geographic, Al Jazeera English, the Guardian, CANADALAND, VICE, ELLE Canada, the Toronto Star, the New York Times, Huffpost, Indian Country Today Media Network, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network National News, and CBC Indigenous.

Brandi won a Human Rights Reporting award from the Canadian Association of Journalists in April of 2019 for her work with the CBC’s Beyond 94 project tracking the progress of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

Her debut memoir, Our Voice of Fire, is forthcoming with House of Anansi in 2022.

Geordie Day is a documentary filmmaker, and television producer/director. He is the founder and president of the production company, NightSchool Films. His films have played on television, demand services, and in theatres at festivals and screenings around the world. Geordie has produced, written and directed on factual programming for Cooking Channel, Animal Planet, Nat Geo, CBC, CTV, E!, MTV, CMT and other networks.