Say the Names brings stories from the people who live in the towns and travel the rivers and lakes situated along the proposed route of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project in British Columbia.
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 (email@example.com) your stories and I'll post them for you. The copyright remains with you.
Last month, Josette Wier, who has been a indefatigable intervenor in the Enbridge hearings - took a tour of the tar sands. This is what she wrote about her trip.
run down and my throat hurts. Is it because I feel choked or is there something
I cannot swallow? I have just returned home to Smithers from an Enbridge
sponsored guided tour of the Fort McMurray tar sands. Upon request and to their
credit, Enbridge agreed to include me in their latest junket in spite of my open
opposition to the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project.
McMurray is a hole in the boreal forest, 467 kms north of Edmonton. From the air,
the sprawling housing for its more than 100,000 inhabitants looks as if it is
bursting at the seams because Crown land allocations are limited and there are
seemingly constant traffic jams. Everything is young and new, including the
population whose median age is 31. Superlatives abound: largest airport traffic
in Canada, nearly completed largest recreational complex in Canada. Average
house prices have reached $650,000.
are two methods for extracting tar sands heavy crude called bitumen; mining and
in situ recovery. Both require large quantities of water and energy.
Mining is an open pit operation using the gigantic trucks often shown in the
media. Interestingly 30% of the truck drivers are female who are very much liked
for their gentler handling of the equipment. Bitumen mining requires the
controversial tailing ponds lining the Athabasca River, which also receives the
“treated” water. In situ recoveryuses steam and does not require
boasted about their 200 ha reclaimed area representing less than 1% of the land
they used. A new directive from the Alberta Energy Regulations requires them to
reclaim 50% in the future, albeit nobody knows if this is even
While there, I felt a mix of fascination and horror;
fascination came from witnessing the technological prowess and accomplishments.
Horror came not only from the scale of the destruction, but also from a sense of
planetary disconnection. There is no doubt that the young, happy, extremely well
paid people and the significant number of foreign workers who could not dream of
a $80,000/yr salary drying laundry in their own country, are all there for the
money. However this is an unprecedented destruction of land, water and air
allowed by extremely lenient federal and provincial regulations. A recently
released report1 (July 2013) shows 4063 chronic and repetitive
contraventions by the major players between 1996-2012 with an enforcement rate
of 0.9% and a median penalty $4,500. Further, the area affected is larger than the extraction
area. Carcinogenic products associated with bitumen extraction were found in
lake sediments 90 kms from the extraction site2.
that was mentioned in the factoids delivered by the attractive tour guide.
Neither was mentioned the contribution of the tar sands extraction to global
warming, the most crucial issue of our time. Even if, as claimed, the contribution
is only a few percentage points to global carbon emissions, such added
percentage points can be the tipping point for disastrous consequences to come.
It appears like a delusional world propped up by our heavily lobbied federal
leaders promoting their aggrandized vision of Canada as a super energy power. By
tripling production in the next 20 years, the CAPP representative explained that
there still will be 100 years left of production (instead of 500). Are we to
continue letting giant oil multinationals decide on our behalf or are we to
develop a vision that will protect the planet and include the well-being of
importance of the contribution of tar sands extraction to the Canadian economy
is not supported by the numbers presented during the visit. If Alberta is
receiving $2.3 billion in royalties, why has it recorded a $2.8 billion deficit
in 2012? Federal taxes amounting to $1.5 billion represent a rather small
percentage of the $1.74 trillion Canadian GDP.
wonder I feel choked. For those of us who have not stepped into the “bitumen
bubble”, it is clear that the future lies in careful planning for the reduction
of our energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions with a renewed sense of
world citizenship and deep care for the future generations.
1Environmental Incidents in
the Northeastern's Alberta Bitumen Sands Region 1996-2012, July 2013, Treeline
Ecological research and Global Forest Watch.
2Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences of the USA, Nov. 2012: Legacy of a half-century of Alberta
oil sands development recorded by lake