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When Is Enough, Enough?  The Appetite for Oil cover image

When Is Enough, Enough? The Appetite for Oil 2004


Distributed by Bullfrog Films, PO Box 149, Oley, PA 19547; 800-543-FROG (3764)
Produced by Michael Allder
Directed by Geoff Bowie
VHS, color, 47 min.

Sr. High - Adult
Anthropology, Canadian Studies, Environmental Studies, Native American Studies, Sociology

Date Entered: 03/10/2006

Reviewed by Gloria Maxwell, Reference Librarian, Penn Valley Community College, Kansas City, MO

The Peace-Athabasca Delta in Alberta, Canada is considered one of the greatest freshwater deltas on earth. Unfortunately—or fortunately, depending on your perspective—it sits on top of one of the richest oil deposits in the world. This documentary is about the small band of Cree Natives who are waging a battle with major oil companies over the damage being done to their land. When development was begun thirty years ago, there were no agencies to oversee developers and chart their affect on the environment.

The Mikisew Cree living in this area describe the changes they’ve seen and how devastating these are to their lives and livelihoods. Trapping is virtually ended due to the disappearance of most wildlife and the river has turned to mud. A nearby dam stopped the ice jambs and flooding, destroying the area for trapping. Fish are dying, full of pus or covered in a brown slime. They want economic development, but the land is sacred to them and their lives depend on the health of the river’s water.

The documentary explores the reports generated by those determined to develop the oil in this area—“useless information that looks like science” countered by the claims the Cree make about how their lives are being affected. In a nutshell, the increasing water demand needed to develop the oil sands plus climate warming equals disaster for the Mikisew Cree. The developers say they will bring the land back to its original wetlands state. The Canada Environment Group, a relatively new organization, is trying to look at the issues raised by the Cree. The young Cree need to leave their homes in the Delta because there are few jobs, no future, trapping is near its end—the only jobs are in oil.

David Schindler, a renowned scientist, provides a warning about “the plunder of resources.” Chief Archie Waquan would like to see a moratorium on all oil development. Laws are needed that would make industries libel for all damages—but there is no such law in Canada. The documentary ends with the statement that the Mikisew Cree cannot afford to continue their legal battle against the oil companies to restore the Peace-Athabasca Delta to its former state.

This is a moving and somber look at the world’s continued thirst for oil at the ruthless expense of the Native Cree’s way of life in this region. It serves as a powerful warning of the dangers of such resource development against the backdrop of climate warming and a people’s drive to preserve their habitat.

Audio and video quality is adequate. Scenic photography enhances its delivery. This is primarily a series of short interviews, without benefit of graphics or animation. Native music creates an unobtrusive and complementary backdrop for the film.

This film is suitable for college library or curriculum collections focused on Native Americans and/or environmental studies, and public high school collections.



  • Focus Award, Montana CINE International Environmental Film Festival
  • Silver World Medal, New York Festivals