Wiebo Ludwig : biography
Wiebo Ludwig (19 December 1941 – 9 April 2012) was the leader of a Christian community named Trickle Creek, just outside Hythe, Alberta, Canada. He was best known for his legal problems arising from his conflict with the oil and gas industry. He was convicted of being an eco-terrorist for sabotaging oil and gas wells. From the early 1990s until the time that he died Ludwig consistently accused the industry of poisoning his family and farm through their attempts to extract toxic sour gas from the Peace River region of Alberta.
Ludwig was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2011. He used an alternative medicine regimen that included injections of vitamin C and hydrogen peroxide.Canadian Press He also received conventional pain relievers and a stent in his throat enabling him to swallow. In the same year Ludwig was also the subject of a documentary, Wiebo's War, which treated his life and conflict with the oil and gas industry sympathetically. In February 2012 Ludwig built his own coffin, and he did his final media interview with journalist Byron Christopher.
Ludwig died two months later, on April 9, in his log cabin. His last words were a request that his family not quarrel, and that they keep their faith. He was buried almost immediately in an above-ground crypt in a forest near his home. The funeral ceremony was private. The day after Ludwig died, RCMP officers asked his family if they could open Ludwig's coffin to take his body's fingerprints in order to verify his death, but Ludwig's family refused, calling the request "'odd,' 'invasive' and 'a terrible disrespect and interference' with human remains". RCMP officers explained that it is common for police to take fingerprints from a recently deceased person if that person has a criminal record, but third-party experts disputed this claim.Christopher, "A Dead Man's Prints"
Ludwig was born during World War II, and emigrated to Canada with his family from Friesland in the northern part of the Netherlands shortly after the war. The Ludwig family settled in the Red Deer, Alberta area. He had seven older siblings. The family maintained strong religious beliefs and most kept ties with the Dutch Reformed Church or held some form of Baptist beliefs.Wittmeier In his early life Ludwig worked as a carpenter and as a drywaller.Christopher, "Wiebo's Final Battle" He later studied pastoral ministry at Dordt College in Iowa, which is associated with the Christian Reformed Church. While studying at Dordt, Weibo met his future wife, Mamie, with whom he later had eleven children. Ludwig completed his pastoral education at the Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
After completing his pastoral education Ludwig's initial application for ordination was rejected, possibly because of his leadership style was perceived as being too authoritarian. He successfully appealed the decision and went on to lead two churches in Goderich, Ontario. Ludwig's leadership of the churches was controversial. In 1985 he led a group of his supporters to settle in a remote farming community near Hythe, Alberta, approximately 500 km northwest of the provincial capital of Edmonton. The small farming community eventually grew into a self-sustaining community several hundred hectares large. The property contains several dozen buildings, including a biodiesel refinery, a greenhouse, and a mill. After the addition of windmills and solar panels the community became capable of generating its own power, and a large computer-controlled boiler generates heat for the community's houses. Ludwig named the community "Trickle Creek".
Confrontations with the oil and gas industry
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In the early 1990s oil companies in northern Alberta began building sour gas wells on land they owned near Trickle Creek. Ludwig linked the flared gas and leaks from the wells with stillbirths, deformations, and miscarriages that began to occur in the community at the time, and began to protest sour gas development near his community. He appealed to the government to regulate sour gas extraction near the community, but the government did not respond. Ludwig then produced a video titled "Home Sour Home" in order to gain broader attention. In an effort to gain the attention of the government he appeared at the government offices of Grande Prairie and poured sour crude oil on the lobby carpet. His appeals for government intervention were not successful.
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