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, April 19, 2013

Canned heat

I'm not sure what Energy Minister Joe Oliver has against canning - canned salmon, especially half-smoked, is some of the best eating on the planet. And you know it's wild salmon in those jars because the farmed stuff is too puny for canning.

Over 4000 people registered to speak at the NEB hearings, but "only about 1440 people actually showed up," he said. Only. Good Lord. We should be happy so many people were willing to take the time to participate in discussions about this supposed "nation-building" project. To add insult to this, Oliver called the statements made at the hearings, "canned messages." (Pretty ironic coming from a Harper government cabinet minister.)

I treasure the wonderful home-canned messages so many people brought to the hearings. In the places where you were allowed to observe the participants, you know those were anything but ready-made. You saw the anger, the fears, the frustration, and the love and concern people have for the places they call home. You heard knowledge and understanding about those homes that could only come from people who had been paying attention for a long time. You heard knowledge and understanding about the forces driving the pipeline proposal and the costs it will incur if it's built.

Joe Oliver may think we're all too ignorant to create our own responses to Enbridge's proposed pipeline, but he obviously has no idea just how much skill, time, and hard work it takes to home can fruit, vegetables, meat and fish. Nor does he understand how essential that food is to many of us living in the communities this project threatens.

His response to this lively, engaged response is to create a new mechanism with a 10-page form you have to fill out if you even want to write a letter in response to an NEB proposal. Resumes and references suggested. I thought these guys were about reducing bureaucratic hurdles.

As Bruce Cockburn once sang, "The trouble with normal is it only gets worse."

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Rest in the grace of the world

April is poetry month and April 22 is Earth Day. What could be a finer conjunction of events! I'm lucky to be joining two wonderful poets - Emily McGiffen and Melissa Sawatsky - at the Smithers Library beginning at 7 pm. We invite you to join us to celebrate the energy that drives us to speak out, sing out, shout out against the activities that threaten the earth while remembering to take the time to stop and go to the places that are the very source of that energy. To, as Wendell Berry suggests, "rest in the grace of the world."

Here's his poem.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.