Born in Fort McMurray, Alberta, aboriginal actress Tantoo Cardinal had a front-row seat to the oil sands growing up. Now living in British Columbia, Cardinal (Métis) traveled to Washington with her friend and fellow actress Margot Kidder to join hundreds at a sit-in aimed at getting President Barack Obama to turn down the proposed 1,700-mile pipeline that would carry crude from the oil-laden fields in northern Alberta all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.
Both she and Kidder, a Canadian, were arrested, along with about 60 others, for violating a protest permit by sitting on Pennsylvania Avenue, on the sidewalk in front of the White House, and staying put when police told them to leave, Postmedia News reported.
Cardinal came, she told protest organizers, because of the "absolute refusal and blindness" out there regarding sustainable energy.
"If there was any amount of energy, and time, and money, and education spent to wind energy, solar energy, and the natural ways of living a good life, then that would be some source of satisfaction," she said in this video. "But the greed has not left. This that is going on right now is no different than all that has happened in the history of my people. This blind greed and meanness is what has annihilated so many nations of my people in genocide."
Cardinal, who appeared in Dances with Wolves, Legends of the Fall and Smoke Signals, among other movies, also had a message for Obama:
"This will affect your children before your grandchildren," the 61-year-old actress said. "And the power is with the people. You nourish people's spirit, nourish their life, and that brings us together."
There is wisdom in aligning with the forces of nature, she said. "It's protection for our children and grandchildren."