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Journalist Arno Kopecky Presents "The Devil's Curve" at Calgary WordFest

by Matt Hanson

Arno Kopecky with Andrew Nikiforuk
Arno Kopecky with Andrew Nikiforuk
Arno Kopecky with Waubgeshig Rice
Arno Kopecky with Waubgeshig Rice


Arno Kopecky, writer of The Devil's Curve, arrived in Calgary earlier this month, October 10th and 11th, to speak on behalf of the subject matter in his new book: the impact of Canadian oil business in the Amazon. The meat of the book lies in the 2009 crisis in Bagua, where Peruvian police officers opened live ammunition on a peaceful protest by Awajun Indigenous people demonstrating against extractive resource industry on their land. The week of the crisis, I was in Peru, only a few miles away, living in the city of Cajamarca. 

As I watched on television, preparing for my flight back to Canada, my personal friend, Arno Kopecky was on his way to Peru to take a closer look. I began following Arno's coverage while I was engaged in an extensive research trip in Cairo, Egypt, where I would often comment on his articles in The Walrus. Later, I became further involved when an Achuar delegation arrived from Peru to protest the proposed extractive business operations of Talisman Energy, a Calgary-based oil corporation, on Achuar land. 

Only weeks before Arno's arrival in Calgary to speak on behalf of his book, The Devil's Curve, the Achuar had won their fight in successfully convincing Talisman that they should not conduct an extractive industry on Achuar land. 

Arno's first presentation at Mount Royal University, was paired off with Waubgeshig Rice, who I had learned of prior on Black Coffee Poet. His second presentation was at Auburn Saloon, with Andrew Nikiforuk, a colleague at the Tyee, and probably the most well-known Tar Sands whistleblower journalist. In both presentations, he was especially emphatic in his regard for the complete lack of empathy for the Amazon's Indigenous peoples. 

During the Achuar Campaign to protest against oil extraction on their territory, they had officially charged invading oil companies with attempted genocide. 

I have great respect for Arno's work and look forward to his next book, which to paraphrase his personal communication, tries to condense the beautiful majesty of northern B.C.'s wilderness, including one of the largest unlogged forest watersheds in the world, into words. 

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