Story by Jake Eccleston, Reporter
When most Aquinas College Students hear the name Wege, their first thoughts may initially jump to the Wege Student Center in the middle of our campus. As the central eatery along with the home of many student services, the Wege center is a building that all students memorize the location of as soon as they step on campus. What some students don’t realize about this building is where it gets its name from. The name of the building itself comes from none other than Mr. Peter M. Wege who recently passed away in 2014 and was a long time friend of the college through his continued support. As a campus that strives to be sustainable, we have taken many notes from Wege’s principles of Economicology which means creating a balance between our ecology and the economy. His commitment to create a just and sustainable world is something that we are still striving for at Aquinas today. One way that we are doing this is by hosting of the Annual Wege Speaker Series with this year’s speaker, Crystal Lameman.
Since this is the twentieth annual Wege Speaker Series, the Wege Foundation wanted to make the event extra special and Lameman will make it just that. Lameman is a member of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation, whose homeland is the site of the massive “tar sands” oil development in Alberta, Canada. The talk that she will be giving on April 21 in the Performing Arts Center at 4 p.m. is titled, The Real Costs of Oil: The Case for Justice at the Ends of the Pipeline. The indigenous people of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation live in an area of forest the size of Switzerland and based on their Treaty of 1876, enjoy legal rights to hunt, fish, and trap in their territory, as their ancestors have done for generations.
In 2008, the Nation began a Treaty Rights litigation against the Canadian government, stating that the almost 20,000 different fossil fuel projects that are going on in this territory are against their treaty rights and are hazardous to their way of life because of the pollution to their land and waters. Lameman, who serves as the Intergovernmental Affairs and Industry Relations Treaty Coordinator and Communications Manager for the Nation, combines her academic background and her indigenous ways of knowing to articulate the devastating impacts of the largest industrial project in the world.
President and CEO of the Wege Foundation, Mark Van Putten has helped to promote the event by stating that “In Michigan, much attention has been paid to the safety of the oil pipeline running underneath the Straits of Mackinac and to proposals to ship tar sands-derived oil on the Great Lakes, while less attention has been paid to the environmental and human costs of tar sands production at the locations of the mines. Lameman will seek to deepen our understanding of what is happening at the source as she speaks about her people’s fight for justice on the front lines and the climate change consequences for all of us.”
If you are interested in hearing more of what Lameman has to say, come listen to her talk, The Real Costs of Oil: The Case for Justice at the Ends of the Pipeline, on April 21 in the Performing Arts Center at 4 p.m. The public is invited and the event is free. Registration is required at aquinas.edu/wegespeaker.