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

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Job creation

I was on a recent kayaking trip to Nuchatlitz Provincial Park on the west coast of  Vancouver Island. We stocked up on groceries in Campbell River and I was wearing my "I've got this sinking feeling" T-shirt. (If anyone knows who designed this great shirt, please let me know because I'd like to credit them here.)

Two people in the grocery store came up to me (separately) and said they liked the T-shirt. One woman said she didn't like the project, but thought it was a done deal. Don't worry, I said. It's not going to happen. Keep speaking up. The other woman said she'd be going/coming up there/here (north) if she was needed. Later on, another couple told me the same thing.

Meanwhile the technical hearings are taking place right now - you can find summaries at the Northwest Institute website.

Now even though I've probably read too many John LeCarre novels where the lengths to which industry and government will go to protect economic interests is always nerve-wracking, I was more than a little creeped (to use a word my kids used to employ) to read an article in The Guardian Weekly: Shell spending $1 bn on security. It details the extent to which oil companies will go to maintain an unwelcome and environmentally destructive infrastructure. The article begins: "Shell is paying Nigerian security forces tens of millions of dollars a year to guard their installations and staff in the Niger delta....The oil giant also maintains a 1,200-strong internal police fore in Nigeria, plus a network of informants." Its budget for security in Africa, the article says, is number three after the total security budgets of the countries of South Africa and Nigeria.

I guess that's one way oil creates jobs.

Another perhaps unexpected job creation project that can likely be credited to the oil industry right here in Canada comes from the establishment of Alberta's counterterrorism unit. According to a June 6 Globe & Mail article, "After labelling certain environmental and first nations groups as extremists and radicals, Canada’s federal government, along with the country’s top law enforcement and spy agencies, have set up a counterterrorism unit in Alberta in order to protect the province’s natural resources and infrastructure."

The job spinoffs are amazing.

Just as it would be nice if some of Shell's security money went into addressing the environmental devastation its oil projects have caused in Nigeria, it would be nice if the Canadian government kept funding those scientists studying the effects of climate change and created jobs in alternative energy. The folks we stayed with in Nuchatliz rely almost entirely on solar - and that's on the wet coast. Go figure.