"...strikingly documents a landscape whose transition from grain silos to oil pump-jacks has received scant attention...The stories of those most directly affected—family farmers whose often desperate need for additional cash opens the door to oil leases, First Nations people whose ongoing struggle for land rights recognition is overridden by developers, temporary foreign workers tied to uncertain contracts, women working in a predominantly male environment—come alive in all their nuance and humanity. The bars, hotels, and shops that support the oil economy also come into sharp focus."
– Publishers Weekly
Oil is not new to Saskatchewan. Many of the wells found on farmland across the province date back to the 1950s when the industry began to spread. But there is little doubt that the recent boom and subsequent downturn in unconventional oil production has reshaped rural lives and landscapes. While many small towns were suffering from depopulation and decline, others reoriented themselves around a booming oil industry.
In place of the abandoned houses and shuttered shops found in many small towns, housing developments sprang up with new trucks and boats parked in driveways. Yet people in oil-producing areas also lived amid flare stacks that made them ill, had trouble finding housing due to vacancy rates that were among the lowest in the country, suffered through family breakdown because of long working hours and time spent away from home, and endured spills and leaks that contaminated their land.
At the height of the boom, photographer Valerie Zink and geographer Emily Eaton travelled to oil towns across the province, from the sea-can motel built from shipping containers on the outskirts of Estevan to seismic testing sites on Thunderchild First Nation’s Sundance grounds.
In text and photographs, Fault Lines captures the complexities of engagement, ambivalence, and resistance in communities living amid oil.
“Fault Lines is a lively chronicle of the ambiguities and aftermaths of Saskatchewan’s oil economy... Valerie Zink’s photographs capture the uneven effects of oil, as people struggle with new economic opportunities and potential pitfalls, and negotiate cultural change as new social forces move into the region."
– Jonathan Peyton, University of Manitoba
“Zink’s photos show with plain-spoken poignancy the stark quality of the land, the oil machinery, the workers, and the farmers who have watched oil booms come and go.”
– Saskatoon StarPhoenix