Say the Names...

Al Purdy wrote a wonderful poem called "Say the names say the names" which celebrates the names of Canadian rivers - Tulameen, Kleena Kleene, Similkameen, Nahanni, Kluane and on and on in a celebratory song.

Enbridge is planning to build a dual pipeline that will carry bitumen and condensate across hundreds of waterways between Edmonton and Kitimat. Some of these waterways are rivers like the Parsnip (or what's left of it), the Nechako, the Morice and others are smaller creeks whose names are often known only to the folks who live along their banks or who fish in their shadows or who bend to wash or drink as they cross paths.

I want to collect the names of these rivers and creeks, to collect your stories, your poems, your songs so we can collectively give voice to the land living under the line Enbridge plans to draw.

People have also sent me copies of their presentations to the community oral presentations. If you'd like to add your voice, email me ( your stories and I'll post them for you. The copyright remains with you.

All the best.
Sheila Peters

Friday, October 22, 2010

Spurs to Writing - Anger and Love

Usually when people are sad, they don't do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.
Malcolm X (1925 - 1965), Malcolm X Speaks, 1965

I have a right to my anger, and I don't want anybody telling me I shouldn't be, that it's not nice to be, and that something's wrong with me because I get angry.
Maxine Waters, in Brian Lanker, I Dream a World, 1989

Anger is a signal, and one worth listening to.
Harriet Lerner, The Dance of Anger, 1985

All ideologies end up killing people. If you separate love from nonviolence you turn nonviolence into an ideology, a gimmick. Structures that are not inhabited by justice and love have no liberating or reconciling force, and are never sources of life.
Jean Goss

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Brief Tour; Coste Rock to Glide Island

When I first learned of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Project I thought of the very large crude carriers that would navigate the Douglas Channel out Hecate Strait and on to open water. I looked up the tanker route on a map, saw the dotted red line on the Northern Gateway site and noticed the lack of names. The bays, islands, channels, parks and ecological reserves are not marked.

As someone who grew up in Kitimat and spent time on the ocean I want to tell you the names of some of the places I feel are significant and at risk because of Enbridge`s proposal.

The proposed Northern Gateway terminal would be near Jesse Lake, a provincial protected area featuring the often photographed picturesque Jesse Falls. Near here, rising up in the centre of the salt water are Coste Rocks, a class A provincial park where harbour seals lounge and scuba divers explore the vertical rock gardens.

Super tankers would pass Coste Rocks and go by Foch–Gilttoyees park, a large tidal lagoon with a salt water marsh and another Class A provincial park whose kelp beds are a nursery for a wide variety of sea life.

The proposed route, the dotted line on the map, goes past the protection of the Sue Channel, also a provincial park, between Hawkesbury Island and Loretta Island where humpback whales and orcas are often seen. The route continues along the length of Hawkesbury Island into Hecate Strait. This portion of Hecate Strait is deep but it is straight and narrow and when the wind blows the effects are severe. Hecate was a Greek goddess who was thought capable of drawing down the moon and negatively influencing the seas.

The massive tankers would pass the community of Hartley Bay, continuing south past Gribbell Island with its lesser known resident white bears, past Gil Island where the Queen of the North ferry remains underwater. The tankers would push south between Princess Royal Island, the spirit bear sanctuary and the island of Campania with its rare white sand beaches. Here the line on the map goes straight past the southern tip of the Dewdney Glide Island Ecological Reserve, critical habitat for nesting birds with a rare bog and fen ecosystem. Here the proposed super tanker route goes in one of three directions over the Pacific Ocean; north, south or straight out to Asia.

These are just some of the places tankers would pass. This is saying nothing of the many historic sites, the cultural sites, the wide array of marine life and the people who depend upon that marine life. These are some of the places along Enbridge`s dotted line, some of the names I needed to say.

Jane Stevenson

Old Woman River

We plant ourselves on the banks of the Morice River
our black rubber boots stand between
the multitude of bear and deer prints
where they lay pressed like a mosaic to the grey, black sand
these being the neighbours in this neighbourhood

She.... the wide river
is swift in this location
no meandering creek spilling into nothingness here
rather a energy of life ripping its way through the landscape
A natural drive like the monthly course of a woman bleeding
creating a lay of the land the map of a place
a very old place

We've travelled here today because 40 years ago this was my frequent place
Putting in at mile 22 meant
Weekly expeditions for numerous years
manoeuvring through life in a canoe
understanding to expect the unexpected
log jams, deadfalls, rapids
watching my teacher lose his life to her strength
learning more in one day than it takes in a life time

As we sip our hot tea and breathe in the pungent scent of rotting pinks and composting vegetation
we can't help but wonder about people who know nothing about place.
Who know nothing about the sacredness of this place.
Who hold no stories in their veins.
How can these who wish to plant pipelines
full of poison
on this very bank
to jeopardize her health and well being?
To accept the idea would be like consenting to a rape.
The rape of an old woman.

Linda Stringfellow 2010