Vancouver, British Columbia – A full-page ad in USA Today, placed by the Mikisew Cree and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations, is intended to highlight the human and environmental damage wrought by Canada’s tar sands.

The advertisement, which was also sponsored by the environmental group ForestEthics, features an oil-splattered map of North America, with oil oozing down from Canada into the United States. The page was placed two days prior to President Barack Obama’s first official visit to Canada.

“Both the federal and provincial governments have failed our aboriginal community for the sake of money, for the sake of corporate interests, and for the sake of increasing energy exports to the United States,” said Chief Allan Adam, of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. “We are seeing disheartening toxicity levels in our animal life and have now received confirmation of unacceptable cancer rates to people in our community. As a people who have been here for thousands of years, we are sad that no one will listen, and that government sits back and issues denials and publicity campaigns without substance.”

Although the majority of Canada’s oil is destined for the U.S., most Americans are unaware that Canada is their biggest supplier of oil, the groups said. The ad is part of a larger effort to raise awareness about the environmental and human health effects of the tar sands.

“This ad will raise awareness that dirty oil from Canada’s tar sands is at odds with not only the clean energy future President Obama has embraced, but also his commitment to enable vulnerable communities to get ahead,” said Merran Smith, director of climate program at ForestEthics. “Green energy means jobs and the human security that only a clean and healthy environment can provide. Dirty tar sands oil truly is a ‘fossil’ fuel that has no place in North America’s green energy future.”

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