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, June 28, 2016

Lelu Island and Flora Banks

We were in Prince Rupert to attend Neil Sterritt's event at the Museum of Northern BC on May 12. He was presenting his new book, Mapping My Way Home: A Gitxsan History, to the community. It's always a treat to attend an event there - the place is beautiful in itself, and the exhibits are always interesting.

Earlier that day, we paddled out of Port Edward past Lelu Island and over to Flora Banks in the north arm of the Skeena River estuary. The camp on the island was in place, a sailboat anchored just offshore, but we continued around, hoping to cross the mouth of the estuary to Kitson Island. 


The winds were against us and we pulled ashore on a sandy beach to eat lunch and watch the tide go out, exposing the shoals that fill the area. A choppy crossing turned into an expanse laced with long sand fingers that reached well out into the estuary. The several eagles we watched as we left Port Edward turned into several dozen birds lined up with the seagulls on these sandy stretches. 

Eelgrass, so important to young salmon, grew at the river's edges.

The Petronas LNG project proposes to level Lelu Island to situate the plant; the bridge to the site where the tankers would dock will cross the area show in the photo above. It is impossible to imagine this happening without severely affecting the estuary. Later on our way home, we stopped to look back down the Skeena, still in tidal water.

We can only hope this river, one of the few intact watersheds in BC, will not have to face this project.

Lelu, Lelu, Lelu, Lelu. I'll have to find out where that name comes from.

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