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

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Arts & Activism

Kudos to Save our Shores on Gabriola island for organizing events throughout the month of November to celebrate  Arts and Activism. I'm thrilled to have been invited to be part of that and will be doing a workshop and reading there on Friday Nov. 8 & 9.

I'll also be showing slides and reading poems from my trip to the Artists Camp in the Muskwa-Kechika (The Muskwa Kechika Fire Poems) at the Island Exposure Gallery in Parksville on Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 7 pm.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Nobel Women's Initiative speaks out on oil sands expansion

The Nobel Women's Initiative uses the prestige of the Nobel Peace Prize and courageous women Peace Laureates to increase the power and visibility of women's groups working globally for peace, justice and equality. The Initiative is led by Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Leymah Gbowee, Tawakkol Karman and Mairead Maguire. Last fall a delegation came through the north and met with women to discuss the proposed Northern Gateway project. Today they released their report and the following press release.
Industry & gov't not listening to those most impacted by oil sands expansionReport documents resistance of women living along proposed pipeline route

(Ottawa)—28 October 2013

A new report released today shows that despite efforts to muzzle the voices of communities resisting oil sands expansion in Alberta and the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, resistance is alive and well—and being led, in many cases, by women. Breaking Ground: Women, Oil and Climate Change in Alberta and British Columbia delivers findings from a delegation organized by the Nobel Women's Initiative to the region.

The high-level group of women, that included Nobel Peace laureate Jody Williams as well as a University of Alberta scientist and an energy efficiency expert from the US, met with over 200 women in 13 communities last October.

The women in Alberta and British Columbia included indigenous leaders, community outreach workers and grassroots activists. They voiced their concerns about a range of economic, health, and social impacts of oil sands expansion—from homelessness, spiraling inflation, breathing problems, undrinkable water and increased cancer rates to domestic violence and unequal access to jobs.

"What we heard in western Canada echoes very much what I have heard from communities throughout North America," said Williams. "Women are frustrated that very real concerns about potential oil spills, their families health and well-being—as well as climate change—are being ignored.  So they are organizing, and demanding to be heard."

Some women in western Canada say they are under high levels of pressure from government, industry and even other community members to not speak publicly against the oil sands. The report notes that recently introduced restrictions limit public participation in National Energy Board hearings on pipeline expansion—and raises concern that by "reducing debate and decision-making around oil sands industry expansion" there will not be "honest and open discussion of the cumulative effects of the development".

The oil sands industry is the fastest-growing single source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.  Oil sands production is projected to expand from 1.4 billion barrels per day to 5 billion by 2035.  Mining has damaged over 680 square kilometres of land in the region—and pipeline construction has cut through thousands of kilometres of pristine forest and polluted streams and lakes.

"While people look at the environment and climate change, very few look at it from the perspective of women," said Williams. "And as with many crises the world over, it's the women and children who suffer the most when their environment is destroyed. I am so inspired by the strength and courage of women who are standing up for their communities in Alberta and British Columbia."

Williams, who is in Ottawa this week for a series of events, is calling on the city of Ottawa to become a global leader on climate change. Her visit coincides with rising debate in Ottawa over TransCanada's proposed plans to build the Energy East pipeline. That pipeline would carry over a million barrels a day of tar sands oil from Alberta to New Brunswick, making its way through Ottawa and across the Rideau River.

Read the full report online:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A folk storm coming...

Here's a letter Murray Minchin of  Douglas Channel Watch has had published in many BC newpapers - thanks, Murray for sharing it here.

"Despite our best efforts to prevent spills, incidents occur".

The less than reassuring quote above is from Enbridge's own corporate social responsibility reports, where they have to document all their pipeline spills from the previous year. Interestingly, it disappeared from Enbridge's reports after their 3.8 million litre diluted bitumen spill into Michigan's Kalamazoo River.

As scary as that shoulder shrugging admission of guaranteed pipeline spills may be, it pales compared to how Enbridge answered the following question during the JRP hearings; "It’s my understanding that there is an operational life expectancy of this pipeline for 50 years. Do you foresee running it for any time longer than that, and how long would that be?"

Enbridge's Ray Doering answered, "Really, the...each pipeline that an operator manages has a unique internal corrosion management program, integrity management program associated with the operation of that pipeline, and a very valuable asset that’s proactively managed with that inspection management program really will have an indefinite life. In 30 years or 50 years, or beyond, the condition of that pipeline really will be the same as the condition when it was first put into service."
It is said the first casualty in war is truth, and so it must be with Enbridge while in post Kalamazoo damage control, because Mr. Doering's answer was given while under oath.

Joint Review Panels used to have the authority to deny proposals, but that power was taken away (after Enbridge's proposal was submitted) by one of Prime Minister Harper's omnibus bills. The Panel can now only make a recommendation. Harper has manipulated the system so that he alone will make the final decision early in January, 2014, unless he allows Conservative MP's a free vote to vote as they wish, or as their constituents wish. 

Since the 1960's, British Columbia has had a voluntary moratorium on oil and gas exploration on BC's coast. Even though we're sitting on our own pot of gold, British Columbian's aren't willing to risk their coastline, salmon, or increasing whale populations. Why should we shoulder all that risk for Alberta? Besides, if the Tar Sands are the answer to Canada's economic wellbeing, why is Alberta in debt?

It is for these reasons, and more, that I believe it will be Canadians standing shoulder to shoulder who will stop Enbridge's Northern Gateway project if Harper decides to try and ram it through. First Nations, individual Cities and Towns, the Union of BC Municipalities, Alberta Unions, The United Church, and more, have taken official positions against the Northern Gateway proposal.

Kitamaat's Gerald Amos has been saying for years that there will be a 'Folk Storm' if Harper tries to force this project through against the wishes of British Columbians, and with such broad spectrum opposition in BC and across Canada, we may all be surprised at how large the protests will be.    

You can bet there will be rallies across Canada as Harper's decision day gets closer. If you oppose Enbridge's plans and haven't gotten involved yet, this is the time to contact your local environmental watchdog group to get on their email list. This will ensure you are notified where and when protests in your community will be held. Make this a priority before November. 

We need to send loud and clear messages that no bitumen will be shipped from the north coast of British Columbia. This is especially important as plans are being investigated to have 7 trains a day carrying diluted bitumen to BC's north coast, and natural gas pipelines can be converted to carry diluted bitumen as is being proposed in eastern Canada. 

Silence or non-participation will be interpreted as acceptance by Enbridge, their foreign investors, and Prime Minister Harper.

Murray Minchin
Kitimat, BC

Monday, October 21, 2013

Enbridge's charm offensive...

A long time Fort St. James' resident has responded to Enbridge's bizarre series of ads with a perceptive essay: Go to Brenda Gouglas's Vancouver Observer op ed piece to see what she has to say.