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, 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:

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