Join the discussion to explore the social and legal ramifications of Site C July 5 at Douglas College Aboriginal Gathering Centre.
The social cost of moving forward with Site C, the third major dam on the Peace River in northeastern BC, goes far beyond the obvious cost overruns and rearguard economics. The tension cracks in the river bank where BC Hydro and the BC Government plan to blast aren’t the only cracks that pose a danger. The project will shatter the entire ecosystem of the Peace River Valley.
We’re All Treaty Peoplewill welcome special guest Chief Bob Chamberlin of the Union of B Indian Chiefs and eature Dr. Gordon Christie, Inupiat/Inuvialuit ancestry, UBC specialist in Aboriginal law (bio attached) and Julian Napoleon Dane-zaa and Cree (bio attached) from the Saulteau First Nations, dedicated to raising awareness around Indigenous issues of land, water, food and community. Other guests will include Adrienne Peacock, a Douglas College Professor emeritus who was a member of the BC Utilities Commission when it rejected Site C in the early 80’s and Reverend Emily Smith the Parish Priest at St. Barnabas Anglican Church in New Westminster.
On the value of land to culture and survival, Mr. Napoleon does not mince his words, “In its destruction of invaluable farmland, waterways, and ecologically rich and abundant biocultural heritage areas, the Site C dam endangers all of our long-term resilience, sovereignty, and food security.”
Dr. Christie will bring clarity to the evening by presenting Treaty 8, its legal ramifications and who is responsible for its adherence. The West Moberly and Prophet River cases as well as the Blueberry River case will be explained in accessible language. But he will also discuss how every British Columbian has a responsibility to ensure that Treaty 8 is respected. Dr. Christie emphasizes that, “Canadians are treaty partners within the treaty 8 regime, and so should be concerned that promises made in the treaty—on their behalf—are being upheld.”
Each guest will be asked to answer the following questions:
Why should the Site C Dam be halted?
What can we do to stop it.
The evening is a fundraiserand pay-what-you canwith food, videos and a chance to meet people working on-the-ground to stop Site C. All proceeds of the evening will go to three court cases: West Moberly and Prophet River Bands injunction request, the Blueberry River Bands Treaty 8 case and the Peace Valley Landowners Association whose members are the farmers and ranchers whose farms fall within the 140,000 square kilometers of land targeted for flooding for the Site C Dam. That territory is equal to the land between Maple Ridge and Hope. Just think about it.
The event is sponsored by Aboriginal Services, Douglas College and Fight C.
Information: Mae Burrows 604-526-1956 (h) 604) 916-9026 (c)
Last Thursday night the long-awaited production of Weaving Reconciliation: Our Way, a play co-written by Renae Morrisear\, Rosemary Georgeson and Savannah Walling and directed by Morriseau opened at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre in East Vancouver/Coast Salish Territories to a circle bursting with friends and guests.
The play cum multi-media performances including storytelling, traditional and personal songs as well as drumming and games–one game in particular Slahal–features some of the finest actors from various parts of British Columbia and across the county.
Stephen Lytton, Sophie Merasty, Jonathan Fisher and Sam Bob join Delhia Nahanee, Latash Maurice Nahanee, Tai Amy Grauman, Tracey Nepinak Vern Bevis and Tania Carter in sharing life experiences and and the stories of how one Indigenous family’s healing process defines reconciliation.
Its not what some might expect if people are looking at the play to shed light on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s proposals about reconciling between First Nations and Canada. Weaving Reconciliation: Our Way (WROW)is deep and its personal. it is more about how one Indigenous family’s healing process defines reconciliation
Morisseau says this about reconciliation “As Indigenous people we have been ‘reconciling’ for a long time within our own communities and in our families. We are living with the impact that Canadian policy and legislation has had on us. It’s generational and continues today.”
And (WROW is funny. As with many communities, sometimes you just had to be part of it to get the humour but the uproar at various parts of the play hit the heart and the funny bone of every single person in the house.
And audiences in every performance since opening night have been raving.
Here are just a few early responses:
Amazing, amazing AMAZING. So SO powerful.
I felt lucky to be in the room.”
Excited to experience indigeneity in this way. Please keep up the amazing work. THIS IS CANADIAN HISTORY.”
Thank you so much for this beautiful, humorous, tragic, hopeful tapestry.
Watching the play, I believed that each story represented the lived experience of each actor. The sharing of the stories, intertwined with other stories, intertwined with past injustices, intertwined with other injustices, give light to the complexities of the process of reconciliation with Indigenous families.
Awesome play. Funny, sad – the actors are great!”
The show continues in Vancouver until May 26 with performances at 7:30 each of May 24 and 25 and one performance at 2:00 pm on May 26.
Weaving Reconciliation: Our Way travels to:
Penticton/Sylix Territory for a performance on Thursday May 31 at 7:00 pm and a Friday matinee at 12:30 pm at the En’owken Centre
Toronto/Treaty 13 on June 6-9 Wednesday through Friday 7:30 pm and Saturday manatee at 2:00 pm Aki Studio Theatre
Winnipeg/Treaty 1 and Metis Homelands June 13 -16 Wednesday through Friday 7:30 pm and Saturday matinee 2:00 pm Theatre Circle Molière
Don’t mss Weaving Reconciliation: Our Way!
Tomorrow i’ll post another piece on Les Filles du Roi (the King’s Daughters) an extraordinary musical/drama about the 800 women famously sent from France to “populate” the New World between 1663 and 1673. Staging, music and story extraordinaire.
There is a connection between the many battles that so many people who live in this land we call British Columbia. Our home on stolen land, First Nations Land. In the Vancouver Area it is the home of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Watuth Nations.
Throughout the territory recognized widely as British Columbia where resource extraction has been the mainstay of this region’s wealth, countless numbers of Indigenous communities have been resisting extraction without consent or return for centuries.
Today more than ever, people who identify as settlers, many of whom have benefitted from being part of settler communities are standing up and acknowledging what was so long-ignored. Now, more and more so, the resistance is spreading lead primarily by Indigenous communities — those who live on land begrudgingly given to them through Treaties then ruthlessly trampled for the purpose of extracting what to capitalists has been the basis of their wealth. As well leadership has come from members of Indigenous Communities who live away from their land in urban centres, often in poverty.
On Monday night, May 7 the Canadian Mining Community was celebrating the destruction they have wrought all over the world. They were celebrating each other in self-congratulating award ceremonies.
At the same time a group of activists also gathered to celebrate. They did so outside the glass palaces of luxury at what is known as Canada Place to celebrate those who have been resisting Canadian Mines, many head-officed right here in Vancouver. From the fight at Mount Polley, described in an article by Emma Gilchrist in the January issue of DeSmog Canada in the following terms:
“On August 4th, 2014 a four square kilometre sized tailings pond full of toxic copper and gold mining waste breached, spilling an estimated 25 billion litres of contaminated materials into Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake, a source of drinking water and major spawning grounds for sockeye salmon. ”
Despite the fact that Mount Polley is according to a headline in the same well-researched online publication, “one of the largest environmental disasters in Canadian history — no charges have been laid against the company,” DeSmog Full story deSmogCanada
In a serious, but light hearted event, opened with words by Tsleil-Watuth watch house co-ordinator Will George who made the connections between to Kinder Morgan on burnaby Mountain and the destruction taking place in BC and around the world brought about by these mining companies.
The songs of welcome by Indigenous matriarchs set the tone for the gala entitled: Unearthing Mining Justice . Whether in the Phillipines, Guatemala, Mexico, or Tibet to name a few places that were called out during this first gala of its kind in BC.more…more about mining justice
Site C every Friday at David Eby’s office
2909 W Broadway, Vancouver
Lemonade, cookies and information about the disaster taking place in North Eastern BC. It is amazing how little real information people living in the Lower Mainland have about the disaster that continues to unfold. Ken and Arlene Boon are farmers from the Peace River who have fought passionately to stop this dam from going ahead. Along with various Indigenous Communities who have been hurt by the non-stop destruction of fishing, hunting and farming land. Currently two court cases are pending. One brought about by the Prophet River Band and the other by the Blueberry River Band. Follow Ken and Arlene Boone at email@example.com and Witness for the Peace.
Wednesday, May 9 a hose down for Kinder Morgan
In Burnaby, activists — both Indigenous and Settler stopped entry to all the gates including the waters of Burrard Inlet where Liam and his kayaking pals managed to hook themselves up to the fence stopping Kinder Morgan from gaining access. The private KM security force known as the RCMP took a few hours to get out there to detach and arrest the brave young ones who are putting their time on the line. Meanwhile in a Kinder Morgan boardroom in Texas, USA two Indigenous Chiefs Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Indian Band, and Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust travelled to Texas to meet with shareholders at the meeting Wednesday. The Chiefs succeeded in having a resolution passed that demands that KM ensure more environmental accountability.
The week had started, of course, with the Greenpeace action to halt the transportation of the giant drill that Kinder Morgan brought to BC for the purpose of drilling through Burnaby Mountain.
Thanks to Rita Wong for permission to publish an early draft of the following piece. The final revised article will be published in an anthology on climate change planned for publication in the fall of 2018.
Rita Wong is a teacher, poet and water and land activist. (@rrwong)
This spring, I’ve spent many hours volunteering and keeping watch at Kwekwecnewtxw, the Coast Salish watch house set up to protect land and water from the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline (https://protecttheinlet.ca/structure/). A place of prayer and ceremony, the watch house was and is also used to watch for enemies.
Accusations of “national interest” fly through the corporate media, and recently the “we love this coast” banner at nearby Camp Cloud was defaced. Despite all the moneyed noise and roughly 200 arrests** of water protectors at the nearby entrance to the Kinder Morgan tank farm, here at this sacred space, I feel the calm and commitment that comes with a community voicing deep love for home, for each other, and even for the relatives who don’t understand or don’t care why humanity needs to stop fossil fuel expansion.
Water protectors come in waves day after day, singing songs like:
People gonna rise like the water, gonna shut this pipeline down I hear the voice of my great granddaughter, saying stop Kinder Morgan Now
Moon after moon, people keep the camps going, with sacred fires, kitchens, workshops, open houses, steady activity both mundane and magical. It’s humbling and uplifting to feel part of a much larger movement asserting connection and responsibility to land and place, remembering the limits of the earth we call home and mother.
I hold immense respect for the Tsleil Waututh community members and allies who are determined to protect mother earth, so courageous and stalwart in their love for this land. They teach us so much through their sacrifice and their honesty, generosity of spirit, and wisdom. I seek to be a good guest on these Coast Salish homelands that I have had the good fortune to live in for the past two and a half decades.
For the past two years, I along with many others have spent much time trying to protect the living Peace River from being choked and killed by the Site C dam, a third dam on this river in Treaty 8 territory (northeast BC) that has already been devastated to provide BC with electricity. Previous dams were effectively attempted genocide on the Indigenous peoples of the river, and Hydro’s recent apology for the violence and trauma rings hollow as it prepares to inflict more violence and turn the sacred, fertile Peace Valley into a sacrifice zone for a capitalist economy that knows no bounds, no humility, no respect.
The past few months in particular have been devastating because of the provincial NDP’s betrayal of its base, the everyday people, but we have continued nonetheless voicing how crucial it is to protect what is left of the free flowing Peace River, a key migration corridor for remaining wildlife and abundant in sacred sites for Treaty 8’s Indigenous people. We hold weekly actions every Friday outside BC Attorney General David Eby’s office to urge him to ensure the province acts honourably on Treaty 8.
The Peace teaches us that those who live down south owe a huge debt to the north. It also offers the possibility of a future economy based in food security (with rich farmland) and respect for land. As places in the US are decommissioning dams, it is not too late to stop the Site C dam debt bomb.
Dams like Site C, Muskrat Falls and Keeyask are examples of ongoing colonization under capitalism, a new wave of hydro colonization, that will run us to the point of mass extinction, if people allow them to be pushed through despite bankrupting and harming us, big governments, and land. They are basically examples of how colonial governments are set up to benefit large corporations at the expense of the land’s health and the well-being of those connected to the land.
The dams greenwash the short term, disconnected greed that misses the bigger picture of what truly matters in life – for example, how the natural cycles like the waxing and waning of the moon teach us a rhythm of coexistence rather than exploitation to the point of destruction.
Many current struggles are connected through valuing the health of the water, respect for land and the land’s Indigenous peoples. There are so many contradictions under capitalism, but the truth remains clear as clean drinkable water: as a species, we cannot afford either the pipeline expansion nor the mega dam if we want to become better relatives with the earth and each other.
What links mega dams and pipelines are the growing inequities that arise with mega projects at a time when community economic development models provide more participatory and just possibilities for economies that fulfill the practical needs (not fleeing desires) of our loved ones.
At the end of the day, the night teaches us that we need to rest and respect our bodies as well as the earth. When the time is right, the moon gives us just enough light to navigate the paths to the watch house and the river. Each river, each place, is special and specific. But under capitalism, everything is reduced to profit and contracts that enforce submission to the banality of evil. I’m struck by Aaron Mills/ Waabishki Ma’iingan’s essay, “What is a Treaty? On Contract and Mutual Aid,” where he states “life under contract is a zombie horror” (215)… “beneath contract’s fiction…is carefully contained violence, always threatening to irrupt the artificial peace…”
Contracts attempt to replace the intimacy of trust built through relationships, through the processes of helping one another. They turn the natural cycles of place and time into endless business 24-7, restless to the point of collapse.
So the capitalist machinery needs to wane, like the moon. It needs to follow and respect existing natural cycles instead of wrecking them.
When we have a fever, we need to rest and sleep, drink lots of liquids and slow down. That is where we are today, from a planetary perspective. Whether we can achieve such a reprieve will depend on the people on the ground, working for their ancestors and the ones yet to come, in each of the places I’ve mentioned, and many more than I can name here.
**To donate to support the legal fund, go to https://stopkmlegalfund.org/ – I am also serving on the Board of this fund with the aim of ensuring that those who are poor can equitably access legal support.