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

Monday, May 6, 2013

Three years on

I walked over to Driftwood Creek this evening to see if I could spot the harlequin ducks that make their way up into the mountains to breed every spring. I’ve written about them often because as well as being beautiful birds, they’re a wonderful signal about the way in which watersheds connect us all, both up and downstream.

 As I stood on the bridge, I realized it’s been almost three years since I started this blog. Three years of a rollercoaster ride of information, of emotion, and of empowerment. We’ve informed ourselves, we’ve told our stories about this amazing region, and we’ve put both the pipeline industry and the National Energy Board on notice. The latest Enbridge news shows us just how complacent both the industry and its regulators have been about safety regulations.

To quote today’s Globe and Mail article,

Canada’s energy regulator has given Enbridge Inc., one of the country’s two pipeline giants, until 2016 to comply with rules tied to its emergency shutdown requirements – demands the watchdog made after finding 117 of 125 pump stations across the country were not up to snuff.

The National Energy Board approved Enbridge’s proposed plan last week after determining a number of the company’s pump stations lacked emergency shutdown push-buttons and an alternate source of power needed to operate the shutdowns.

Enbridge’s regulatory shortcomings arrive as energy companies face fierce opposition, with critics pointing fingers at the industry’s stumbles. However, while the NEB found Enbridge violated the rules, the regulator also admits it only recently started pursuing investigations tied to emergency shutdown mechanisms.

When spring finally arrives in the north, it feels like a runaway freight train. Daylight increases so quickly, night feels like a quaint relic from some distant era. Plants shove themselves up toward that light, gobbling it like young lambs batter their mothers’ udders. Wild onions, nettles, and morels offer themselves to impatient gardeners. Bears paw through ant hills and gobble cottonwood buds. Warblers and winter wrens sing their melodic love songs while ravens and jays scavenge for food to feed the hatchlings in their nests. 

Meanwhile the creek’s clamour rides in through our open windows and cliffs slump their muddy debris into the runoff, a wild ride that has barely begun. This is a time to remember and respect water and its gifts, its strengths, its danger. If we hold anything sacred, these creeks and rivers should be it: hallelujah to its wild ways.

If you’ve found yourself distracted from the true stories of the north, distracted by the oil industries prophecies of disaster if we actually elect a government that won’t do its biddings, you might want to give a good listen to Rachelle VanZanten. She’s just released a new album, Oh Mother, which includes some songs that will raise your spirits - to find out when she’ll be in your neighbourhood, check out Rachelle's tour dates. 

Or you might want to have another look at the Driftwood Foundation’s 4000 Reasons Video made in June of last year. We are still here and we’re still singing.