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

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Kate Brooks - my children's questions

Good Morning. Thank you for this opportunity to speak.

The dinner table conversation at my house has been challenging in the last months as we have studied the proposed Gateway Pipeline Project and tried to figure out what it would mean to us to have a pipeline constructed so close to where we live.

My children are 13 and 10 and as a family my husband and I spent a lot of time with them reading articles in the press, following blogs, and watching videos and dvd’s on the proposal. We also spent time at the Enbridge website since much of the press has been pretty unfavourable.

As the statistics and reports added up….over 600 pipeline leaks in the past years with a particularly bad one in the Kalamazoo river in Michigan… my children’s questions began to pile up too…questions and statements for which we as parents had no answer…

“Most of the pipeline leaks are old pipes, Mom, so are they going to keep putting in new pipes on this pipeline, or will these ones get old and leak too?”

“Mom, the Queen of the North ferry hit a rock while making a simple turn and it sank and is still leaking oil. If the queen of the north made a mistake, a supertanker can make one too.”

“Yeah Dad, I watched Enbridge’s video on all the safety features they have in place but how much will that help? I bet BP and EXXON promised there would be no accidents when they set out their proposals and look what happened. “

“ But Mom, the Kalamazoo river cleanup is a mess. When the engineer at the Enbridge website says he doesn’t think there is going to be a problem, I think he is wrong. I don’t believe him.”

“So Dad, the bears need the salmon, and the trees need the bears eating the salmon, so what happens if a spill destroys the salmon? People are not the only ones with needs in the world, you know.”

“A leak is just one of the problems Mom…what about the construction? Won’t it have hazards too? What about avalanches and earthquakes? Won’t it create a big mess?

“Dad, if I was in charge, I wouldn’t let this pipeline be built.”

 “Mom, why are they sending the oil to China? We know there is going to be an oil crisis…I think they should save the oil for ME.”

My children are blessed to live surrounded by wild space. There is always something to be aware of here: The oolican are running, the salmon are running, the cranes are moving north, the geese are moving south, the loons are back, there is fresh bear poop on the path to the wild berry patch, the coyotes woke me up---they were so loud I thought they were in the driveway, the moose are in the driveway between us and the car and we need to get to town.

They appreciate the beauty and wildness here, the spaciousness, and the complexity, even while complaining all the way up the trail to the breath- taking view.

But they are now beginning to think that the only way to protect a place is to not let anyone in because as my 13 year old wrote in his school report--“The road to an oil spill is paved with any kind of intentions, good or bad, and while good intentions will certainly prevent a spill for awhile, it won’t forever. How would we feel if we were almost any animal on the pipeline route when a spill happened?….Do we really want the BC coast to become known as the Land of the Black water? Why is this happening?….To make money may be the clear answer, but our ecosystem is one of the most rare and precious on earth. We’re already harming it with fish farms and over fishing….Is money the only thing we need in the world? Do we need nothing to be proud of and protect?”

It became clear after reading this and listening to their discussions with us that the important issue for my children is to protect a landscape and home they love and take pride in.The important issue for me is safety I want my kids and family to be safe and healthy and one of the things I need for that is a clean environment.

We were drawn to looking at the safety record of Enbridge because my kids want to protect the environment for themselves and all creatures. I want them to be safe and healthy and in the end it really amounts to the same thing.

Perhaps because of their naivety and innocence, they see what so many cannot-- that money is not what truly sustains us….Wild land with wild creatures, clean air, soil and water and community….these are what truly keeps us alive. These are what feed us. No amount of money will ever clean up a disaster….that has been shown the world over. Despite the millions of dollars companies keep in the bank for that ‘just in case’ scenario…it never covers the true cost. Never. It takes lifetimes for the earth to heal.

Part of my reason for speaking today was to ask for your help in protecting a place that is worth protecting. It’s a healthy place and the risks of this project seem too great. The other reason is to show my children the importance of standing up, whether nervous or not ( and I am incredibly nervous), to ask for that help. You, as a panel and as individuals, have a huge responsibility, and opportunity and that is the power to weigh all the arguments.

I ask you to please listen to the wildness of this land, and everything and everyone that lives and thrives on it; Please go for a walk here and look at the big picture…. Please weigh our concerns in at least equal measure, if not more, to profit.

If we could, we’d like to pose one question. ”If Enbridge was told that the pipeline would be closed forever if there was even one leak, what would they do differently with their planning?"

Right now, we as a family have no confidence that Enbridge would be able to provide an acceptable answer, and until they can we ask you to please say No to the Enbridge pipeline proposal. 
Thank you.

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