Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Child's Christmas in Canada

this cold snowy night, seated here beside the Christmas tree my son and I decorated together, its lights cheery against the darkest coldest time of year. On the weekend, we went out to a nearby tree farm where they provided us with a saw and told us we could cut our own tree from the collection of snow-laden spruce and fir lined up there, seemingly waiting and watching. We had hot chocolate, warmed our stinging red hands through mitts by the bonfire and went on a horse-drawn sleighride through the trees.

The smell of the balsam fir tree now wafts through our living room. The temperature has plummeted to minus twenty degrees and colder; outside is crisp and clean with sharp slivers of crystal suspended in the air. A strong wind blows directly from the wild lands north of here telling us this old world of ours is still capable of powerful force which still stretches far beyond our reach and control.

Our Italian neighbour's crystal earrings sparkled by the Christmas tree as she sipped her wine in our living room last night.

Christmas around Prince George and BC's northen interior dwells in log cabins, woodstoves, forests, horse drawn sleigh rides under thick woolen blankets, sparkling snow, red-cheeked children skating on lake surface rinks and the sharp lines of cross country ski trails disappearing through the snow-laden forests spread out before us. The midday sun pauses low in the sky, brightening the landscape, not quite penetrating the chill. The magic of a northern Canadian Christmas. I want my son to experience these cozy magical Canadian phenomena for his whole life.

In recent months, Canadian politicians have traveled the globe trying to sell our country as an exporter of the black dirty fuels that are driving humans and much of the world to the brink of oblivion: coal and crude oil. We have the resources, you have the knowledge, they tell other parts of the world. Our black smudge soul reaching out to the world as we become something we never were, and the land is a place for resource exploitation rather than a precious home as it once was. Every branch and leaf is sacred, so too the passing breezes that blow through.

The federal government-appointed review panel has also been announced for the oil and condensate twin pipelines a major oil pipeline company wants to put through here, on its journey from the Alberta tar sands to the Kitimat coast. The Canadian government has plans to expand Canada's oil market to Asia and we stand right on the route of them being able to do so. The tar sands' ugliness begins to creep this way.

First Nations people have already decried the process, and the vice chief of the local tribal council traveled to the climate talks in Copenhagen to talk about the pipeline, the concerns about the tar sands and how his people's Aboriginal rights have been ignored. The pipeline would cross a thousand rivers and streams between Alberta and the coast, and one of them is the Stuart River, a major tributary of the Nechako River that flows into the Fraser here in Prince George.

I grew up on the banks of the Nechako River, and the cheery chatting but haunting call of the geese migrating through shadowed my childhood years. The calendar's months marked by the passing of the geese.

And I have traveled along the Nechako River's banks on the historic train route headed west. From the train I have watched the white trumpeter swans gracefully swimming there, at peace, completely oblivious of the dark oily stain of spills that would threaten them from upstream. Swans are of the ethereal realm of angel hymns sung by warm candle glow somewhere in the midst of this sparkling-moon snow-tucked hushed wild land that still despite what dark industrial threats may lurk, remains magical and mysterious. This land holds a gentle power that only the most patient observers fully come to understand.

The churches last Sunday rang their bells through the crisp sharp air 350 times for Copenhagen. 350 parts per million, the safe level of carbon into the atmosphere. Church bells rising into this same air, speaking to carbon of hope, of people's hope for a bright shiny new world.

The thermostat read minus 30 earlier today, minus 40 with the windchill. We are in northern Canada, in our down jackets and Canadian-made Baffin boots.

It is where we want to stay.

The other night we went downtown together to get library books. Outside the city had put up Christmas lights which cast a warm glow across the snow and ice of the downtown courtyard. My son is drawn to these cheery lights. We imagine these lights are the magical lights of Santa's home far north at the North Pole. Indeed the trees in the surrounding hills and stretching up to nearby Connaught Hill where the City has erected a Christmas lights display twinkle with ice crystals and a haunting white layer of hoar frost.

When it starts to snow, a perfectly formed snowflake lands on my black glove. I remember as a child letting the snowflakes land on my gloves, and studying many of them, one by one, as they landed, each in a beautifully formed unique pattern. I show the snowflake patterns to my son, and we look up, the falling snow tickling our faces as it falls from high above, from that mysterious place of air that has become so complicated and yet remains so simple.

I do not ever want to lose these northern snowflakes. I do not want them to be replaced by distorted ice blobs or driving sleet of global warming. I will fight for the perfectly formed snowflakes and fluffy northern snow.

In my Christmas dream, my young son is pretending to be a Christmas elf skiing through the snow, heading across the magic lands of the North Pole. He has entered this special land that only children can visit because they dwell where magic is still possible everywhere. He tells me about the other elves he spots, those figures darting into the Prince George Civic Centre for a meeting. Those figures entering Santa's home to create the toys for the children. Later he will sit on Santa's knee by the old trains at the Prince George Railway Museum and tell him he will leave chocolate chip cookies out for him. He will tell Santa about the toy he wants.

Toys that will not hurt the environment with their plastic and styrofoam wrap and mass production waste because they are made instead by elves in a magic land where there is no such thing as waste and pollution. They make the toys far beyond the place where the polar bears now slip through the sea ice into the vast waters of the Arctic Ocean.

Somewhere up there, high above the spruce trees and snow and polar bears' caves, the magical north pole still needs to exist. Santa lives in Canada with the postal code HO HO HO. This northern magic is a legacy we offer to the world, more valuable than any crude oil we could ever hope to export.

And a Merry Christmas still rings out from the mysterious vast snowy lands of northern Canada.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Winter Solstice

the shortest day of the year was greeted by buckets of snowflakes landing on our heads, mitts, cars and houses today. Went out for a magical cross country ski this evening through snow laden trees . . . skiing by ambient light reflected by the white surface of the snow is indeed a wondrous experience. I never want to lose our winters. Meanwhile there was a lantern walk downtown Prince George this evening to honour the solstice.

Winter Solstice, the time for inner reflection . . . so I probably should not blog about it . . .

but happy solstice to one, to all.
Coziest time of the year before the light begins to return.

Monday, December 14, 2009

letter to Enbridge (re: Northern Gateway proposed pipeline) from Sea to Sands Conservation Alliance (, Prince George BC

Enbridge Inc.
3000 ‐ 425 1st Street S.W.
Calgary, Alberta
T2P 3L8


December 14, 2009

To Whom it May Concern:


We are a newly formed citizens' group, based in Prince George, BC, opposed to the Northern Gateway oil pipeline project. To date, we have over 600 people opposed to the oil pipeline project and our support is growing daily.

In part we are responding to articles in the Prince George Citizen, November 27, 2009and Prince George Free Press, December 3, 2009 wherein Enbridge spokespeople are quoted as saying they hope this group (Sea 2 Sands Conservation Alliance) brings its concerns to Enbridge's Community Advisory Board.

We would like to be on record as saying that we do not view the Enbridge‐run Community Advisory Boards as an open public consultation.
The Enbridge website gives no details about the Community Advisory Board meetings. People must apply to attend and Enbridge screens the applicants. The meetings are not widely advertised. The media is excluded. In past sessions, Enbridge facilitators guide and control the discussions. The possibility of NO PIPELINE is not on the table at these meetings.

Reasons for our concerns and our opposition are as follows:

1. Broader Environmental Implications

a) Climate change ‐ governments are currently meeting in Copenhagen attempting to reach agreements to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the
potentially devastating impacts predicted by the scientific community. A majority of Canadians are in support of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Building an oil pipeline to sell Canada's water and energy‐intensive bitumen to countries such as China and India is incongruous with the goals of the Copenhagen meetings. It is also incongruous with all international climate talks being held around the world. In addition, the Canadian tar sands are known to be the highest growing source of carbon emissions in Canada and the primary impediment for Canada to bring about substantial reductions to carbon emissions. There is a complete disconnect between a reduction of carbon emissions and construction of a pipeline to export Canada's crude oil. Our generation has a significant moral responsibility to work toward reducing carbon emissions if there is even a remote chance that human‐generated emissions are causing the planet's weather systems to become destabilized.

b) Destructiveness of the tar sands ‐ The Canadian tar sands are receiving international criticism for the intense damage they impose on the local environment and those living in close proximity to them. In fact, Canada is losing its internationally respected reputation as a peaceful, responsible country because of this dirty source of oil; a reputation that took nearly 150 years to build. Critics of the tar sands include those from local indigenous people to heads of state around the world to global religious leaders. Some concerns related to the tar sands are:

i) detrimental impact on local First Nations traditional uses of the land
ii) elevated rates of cancer, birth defects, haemolytic anaemia and liver damage in people living in close proximity to (especially downstream) the tar sands
iii) immense amounts of water and natural gas utilized to extract bitumen
iv) destruction of boreal birds' breeding grounds
v) deaths and injury to local wildlife
vi) ineffective restoration of affected lands

The Enbridge Northern Gateway project is inextricably linked to the continued expansion of the tar sands. To support this pipeline is unacceptable.

Canada's economy evolves to the use of cleaner sources of energy. Sea 2 Sands feels that the sooner we move in that direction, the better.

2. Risk of oil spills along the Route ‐ both in terms of the pipelines and the oil tanker traffic that would result from construction of the port at Kitimat Enbridge states that there is a risk of oil spills. "Pipeline leaks are an inherent risk of operations" (Enbridge Annual Report 2008). This project would cross approximately
1000 streams and numerous major rivers including the Stuart River, a tributary of the Nechako River, which flows through the City of Prince George. Spills entering Prince George's watershed would have serious consequences for domestic and industrial water supplies. The citizens of British Columbia have already been subject to a substantial spill from a pipeline on the Pine River in August 2000. That spill impacted fish and wildlife habitat, and had significant negative effects on the drinking water in Chetwynd. The rivers crossed by this proposed pipeline are tributaries of the two major river systems of British Columbia, the Fraser and the Skeena. These watersheds represent some of the most valuable salmon habitat in the world. In recent years it has become apparent that salmon stocks on both rivers (Skeena and Fraser) are already compromised. The risk of even one oil spill could cause such damage as to destroy the few salmon we have left. A report has been produced outlining the potential negative effects of oil on salmon ( Enbridge cannot guarantee there would be no spills along this pipeline nor could they guarantee a timely response in the event of a spill in the remote and rugged territory the pipeline will cross, particularly during extreme weather conditions. Even the risk of one spill is too much in the context of these fragile inland ecosystems. The Carrier Sekani Tribal Council has conducted further research addressing some of these issues on the local level more specifically, and have been documented in their Aboriginal Interest and Use Study, which can be found at (

The risk of oil tanker spills in the Douglas Channel and the northwest coast is also considerable and of serious concern. Wildlife values in this area are significant on a global scale. For example, 28 of British Columbia's 84 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) lie within 250 kilometres of the mouth of Douglas Channel (http://www.bsc‐ Many of these IBAs support significant breeding populations of colonial seabirds. In addition to seabirds, the entire North Pacific population of grey whales passes through these waters during their annual migration from their breeding grounds in Mexico to their summer feeding grounds near Alaska. These waters are also migratory pathways for west coast salmon populations. British Columbia's recent experience with the spill of diesel fuel when the ferry, Queen of the North, sank in 2006 saw a number of issues indicating what would happen should a spill of crude oil occur. First and foremost was how difficult it was to physically contain even a small spill of a light and relatively benign substance in and around the rugged coastline for northern BC. Any spill from tankers moving oil from Kitimat would have unfathomable impacts to this extensive coastal area.

3. Socio‐Economic Costs Associated with Constructing the Pipeline: To First Nations people: Resource extraction has created divisiveness between various First Nations communities and between First Nations and non First Nations communities. It is time for this divisiveness to end. Many of the First Nations communities along the route of this pipeline have strongly stated their opposition. The traditional uses of the land would be severely compromised. As various First Nations groups, including the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, have pointed out, the social costs/risks are simply too high in the face of long‐standing cultural traditions. As we strive to move toward more sustainable, low‐carbon, local‐based economies, the wisdom of Aboriginal elders and traditional uses of the land become increasingly vital. We cannot afford to further place at risk these valuable cultural resources. Please watch the following series of videos for more information about the profound insights of local First Nations people into the broader issues at stake: To all communities along the route: Northern communities need long‐lasting, resilient economic bases. What we do not need is short‐term employment projects that come with significant long‐term environmental and social costs. For years northern British Columbians have endured a boom and bust, raw resource extraction economy, which has led families into cycles of despair during the hard times. Many social science studies point to the abject social consequences of relying heavily on raw resource extraction and short‐term industrial economic foundations. Recently there are various projects around the area focused on evolving beyond the boom and bust raw resource extraction mentality that has not served people well during times of recession in the past. We must build locally based sustainable economic opportunities; to do this requires healthy land and water resources. Any project — such as the oil pipeline and its associated spill risks — does not fit with this kind of vision for future northern economic development. Northerners must develop these visions. There are other economic activities in the north that depend on healthy, uncontaminated watersheds and even one oil spill risk would jeopardize the viability of these pursuits. One example is tourism: northern British Columbia's tourism base is founded on offering wilderness experiences, and a pristine environment is a cornerstone of these economic endeavours. Hunting and fishing are other examples.

One study conducted in the Skeena watershed reported that wild salmon fisheries generate close to $110 million in direct economic activity ( Many of our members have deep and longstanding roots in the northern interior of British Columbia. Most have lived in these communities for many years, have strong community ties and care deeply about this area. These are serious issues for us and many other residents along the proposed route. The opposition of Sea 2 Sands members was not formed without thought and we will continue to strongly oppose this project. The vision for Northern British Columbia that Enbridge is proposing by way of the Northern Gateway project is contradictory to the values of our members and the stewardship role that we share as residents of this region. We ask that you consider abandoning the Northern Gateway project and continue to pursue more viable and sustainable methods of energy production and distribution. Now, more than ever, we need leaders in the development of sustainable energy alternatives. You have an extraordinary opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to the health and prosperity of your company, your shareholders, and our nation. Please do not waste it.

Sea to Sands Conservation Alliance

Josh DeLeenheer
Mary MacDonald


Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada
Hon. Jim Prentice, Canada Environment Minister
Hon. Gordon Campbell, Premier of British Columbia
Hereditary and Elected B.C. First Nations Chiefs
Dick Harris, MP, Cariboo‐Prince George
Jay Hill, MP, Prince George‐Peace River
Nathan Cullen, MP, Skeena‐Bulkley Valley
Sea to Sands Conservation Alliance Page 6 of 6
Hon. Shirley Bond, MLA, Prince George‐Valemount & British Columbia Minister of Transportation & Infrastructure
Hon. Pat Bell, MLA, Prince George North & British Columbia Minister of Forests and Range and Minister Responsible for Integrated Land Management Bureau
Hon. Blair Lekstrom, MLA, Peace River South & British Columbia Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources
John Rustad, MLA, Nechako Lakes
Hon. Dan Rogers, Mayor of City of Prince George
Prince George City Council
Tim McEwan, President & CEO, Initiatives Prince George
Prince George Media

Thursday, December 10, 2009

International Human Rights day & a Canadian action item


and tying in very much with the climate talks now happening in Copenhagen (and Canada's black oil smudge mark. . . ) here is an action item issued by Amnesty International.

Yes, human rights and environment go very much hand in hand. . .


CANADA (Alberta): Justice overdue for the Lubicon Cree
“All we’re asking is to be a viable community and not dependent on any government. We have that right to be able to say to our kids and our grandchildren, ‘Here’s a land base and here you’re going to be able to live somewhat like the rest of the people in Canada.’”

- Dwight Gladue, in the new Amnesty International film, Our Land, My People: The Struggle of the Lubicon Cree

Corporations have removed billions of dollars worth of oil and gas from the lands of the Lubicon Cree in northern Alberta. The Lubicon, however, live in poverty. Their economy and way of life have been nearly wiped out by the destruction of animal habitat. The government has never provided basic services, like clean water and sanitation.

The Lubicon were left out of a treaty that the federal government negotiated with other Indigenous peoples in the region in 1899. There is still no agreement between the Lubicon and the federal and provincial governments over the ownership and management of their lands and resources. The federal and provincial governments have acknowledged the need to negotiate a land settlement. However, there have been no negotiations since 2003.

In the meantime, the provincial government is allowing oil and gas development to proceed at an astonishing pace on all but a few corners of Lubicon land. The Lubicon have estimated that there are more than four oil and gas wells for every Lubicon person. Now the Lubicon territory is being targeted for tar sands development, which raises more concerns about impacts on the environment.

No other human rights case in Canada has been so often condemned by United Nations human rights bodies.

Amnesty International calls on the federal government to enter into meaningful negotiations with the Lubicon so that a settlement can be reached that will protect their rights under national and international law. Until such a settlement is reached, Amnesty International urges the Province of Alberta not to license any more oil or gas wells on Lubicon land unless the Lubicon people approve.

Please write to Alberta’s premier.
Describe who you are.
Note that United Nations human rights experts have expressed concern many times about the devastating effects that oil and gas development have on the rights of the Lubicon Cree, including their livelihoods, culture, and way of life.
Urge the Government of Alberta to ensure that, until the Lubicon land dispute has been settled, it will permit no new oil and gas development on Lubicon land unless the Lubicon Cree agree to it.
Write to:
The Honourable Ed Stelmach
Premier of Alberta
307 Legislature Building
10800 – 97th Avenue
Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6

Start your letter:
Dear Premier Stelmach
Postage: 54 cents
Fax: (780) 427-1349

Take action online at

This new Amnesty International website features an online version of the film ‘Our Land, My People,’ background information on the situation of the Lubicon Cree, and lots of opportunities to take action. Visit the website to

send an email to the premier of Alberta
join our photo petition
get your friends and colleagues involved in the campaign.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Light a Candle for Hope in Prince George this weekend

Lots of actions for hope, peace and an all-round healthier world here in Prince George this coming weekend:

Candlelight Vigil, Friday December 11, 2009, 6:00 - 7:00 pm Civic Centre

Global leaders are now gathering in Copenhagen for climate negotiations. Please join me at a candlelight vigil in Prince George this Friday to show your support for policies aimed at combating global climate change. This is one of thousands of events taking place worldwide this weekend through -- let's join the world in sending a message to our political leaders!

Please bring:

A candle and holder
A sign (fun contest -- best sign wins a free copy of Now or Never by Tim Flannery!)
A hot drink to help stay warm!

We will gather at the Civic Centre and then walk, with our candles lit, to the constituency office of Dick Harris and Jay Hill (206-575 Quebec St -- a five-minute walk). Our thoughts will be drawn to the negotiations in Copenhagen, and to the people that climate change will affect and has affected, through song, words, and a moment of silence.

On Sunday afternoon December 13, Knox United Church (downtown Prince George) will ring its bells 350 times for Copenhagen/ climate action.

Meanwhile, down the street at Books and Company, the Prince George chapter of Amnesty International is hosting a letter-writing campaign for international human rights.

"Please come down to Books and Company, 1685 3rd Avenue, Prince George on Sunday between 1 pm and 4 pmand reaffirm the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) writing a letter about human rights abuses or signing a greeting card to human rights defenders around the world.

Learn more about the UDHR and Amnesty International's work.

We hope to see you there!

Seiko Watanabe, AI field worker for northern BC George Harding Prince George AI group contact"

Takla Lake First Nation opposes Enbridge Northern Gateway oil pipeline review process

For Immediate Release
December 4, 2009

Takla Lake First Nation Opposes flawed Review of Enbridge Pipeline, Releases Public Report on Flawed EA Process

Takla lake first nation Traditional Territory/takla landing, BC – The Takla Lake First Nation is pleased to announce the release of its Report examining their long battle with the Joint Panel Review for the Kemess North Mine. Titled, Kemess North: Insights and Lessons, it examines the process that Takla Lake, Kwadacha and Tsay Keh Dene First Nations (collectively known as the Tse Keh Nay) had to endure to make sure that a fresh water lake in their territory (Amazay) was not destroyed by the waste rock of a proposed gold mine. It also examines how Tsay Key Nay participated, in protest, of the Joint Review Panel for the proposed Kemess North Copper-Gold Mine Project, which concluded that the project not be approved.

“It was a historic moment when the Joint Panel recommended to the government that the Kemess North mine not be allowed to kill a fresh water lake in our territory”, said Chief Dolly Abraham. “Even though our voices were heard by the Panel, it was not the appropriate place for dealing with our Aboriginal rights to decision-making about such projects. We want government-to-government processes, including those for high level strategic land planning.”

“First Nations in BC and across Canada can learn a lot from what we went through to protect our sacred waters and lands,” said Chief Dolly Abraham. “There is still uncertainty in our territories because the government does not want follow direction from the courts that meaningful consultation is required.”

Takla Lake First Nations has been working with Nadleh Whut’en and Nak’azdli First Nations in proposing a separate First Nations review process for large projects, which has been rejected by both BC and Canada. “Until the government comes to the table with the willingness to change how it meaningfully consults and includes us in joint decision-making, including the establishment of environmental review processes, we will continue to have uncertainty in Takla’s territory.”

This report comes at an opportune time, since the National Energy Board’s recent announcement to issue a Joint Panel Review of the proposed Enbridge Pipeline. “I encourage all First Nations affected by the Enbridge Pipeline Joint Panel Review process to read our report and work together,” said Chief Abraham. “Investors should be very nervous. First Nations are not adequately consulted through these flawed processes.”

In addition to the report, the Tse Keh Nay developed a documentary about their struggle call “Amazay: A Film About Water”.


Chief Dolly Abraham: 250-564-9321


Takla Lake First Nation -

Documentary available at Tse Keh Nay website -

Report available -

Friday, December 4, 2009

Carrier Sekani Tribal Council points out enbridge review process flaws


Carrier Sekani Tribal Council
News Release
December 4, 2009

Joint Review Panel too weak to address First Nations and Public Interests

Dakelh Traditional Territory/Prince George, BC – The Carrier Sekani Tribal Council (CSTC) is not surprised the National Energy Board (NEB) and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) has issued a Joint Panel Agreement for the review of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project (Enbridge Pipeline). “It is unacceptable that the Government of Canada continues to break its own laws regarding meaningful consultation with First Nations by setting up a Joint Review Panel without First Nations involvement” stated Vice Tribal Chief Terry Teegee.

“CSTC communities were not consulted or involved in the establishment of this Joint Review Panel”, notes Vice Chief Teegee. “Here we go again! The Tsay Keh Nay (Takla Lake First Nation, Kwadacha First Nation and Tsay Keh Dene) who participated in the Kemess Joint Review in protest, fought for over 5 years to save Amazay (Duncan) Lake. CSTC and other First Nations will be prepared to fight the Enbridge Pipeline once again.” The Takla Lake First Nation have released a report that outlines their experience with the Joint Review Panel for the Kemess North decision, which stopped the dumping of 300 million tonnes of waste rock into Amazay Lake..

This proposed Enbridge pipeline will cross over 15 First Nations, 6 of which are members of the CSTC. It could be a 1,170 km long, 30 m wide, twin pipeline transporting the dirtiest, most toxic products from the oil sands in Alberta to the BC Coast and beyond. Huge super tanks are proposed to transport the oil from the North West coast to Asia and the rest of the world, further putting coastal ecosystems at risk.

“Just think. They are still cleaning up the mess from the Exxon Valdez accident. The proposed Enbridge pipeline will have twice as much oil going through it in one day, than what was spilled by Exxon Valdez in 1989.” stated Vice Chief Teegee. Teegee continued, “Canada is suggesting contributing to climate change by exporting this dirty oil, which is bound for Asian markets and the United States? No wonder Canada’s reputation is in tatters when it comes to setting targets for carbon emissions, Canada’s priorities are backwards in our fight against carbon emissions and climate change.” .”

Talks begin next week in Copenhagen, Denmark to develop a new international framework to combat climate change and replace the Kyoto Protocol. Vice Chief Teegee will be attending these meetings with a delegation of other First Nations Chiefs from across Canada and the world. “I’ll be talking a lot about this proposed Enbridge pipeline with international leaders in Copenhagen. Our lands are not for sale, we have said no to this project already in 2006. The potential detrimental impacts of a pipeline that would exist for over 200 years in our lands are not acceptable, especially for our grandchildren.”

In 2006, CSTC conducted an Aboriginal Interest and Use Study (AIUS) examining the impacts of the Enbridge Gateway pipeline. Extensive community consultations were had with CSTC members, and the risks of spills, accidents and sabotage were too high. The toxicity of the materials being transported is too high and even low amounts will have detrimental effects on the 785 watercourses and fragile fish habitats that are necessary for the survival of declining salmon stocks which are on the brink of extinction.

“These government reviews are too narrow in scope, and don’t account for impacts to Aboriginal rights and title. We have a right to free, prior and informed consent when it comes to development in our territories. Under their current Environmental Assessment framework a Joint Review Panel does not have legislation to address our rights and to make decisions on our behalf.” stated Vice Tribal Chief Terry Teegee.


For more information, contact Vice Tribal Chief Terry Teegee at 250-562-6279

Links to backgrounders:

Enbridge Gateway Pipeline Project –

Nadleh Whut'en on Enbridge northern gateway joint review panel

The finalized Agreement for the Joint Review Panel of Enbridge's Northern Gateway Project was released today December 4, 2009 by the Canada Environmental Assessment Agency. . . (

Here is a response from the Nadleh Whut'en near my old stomping grounds west of Prince George. I am with you Nadleh Whut'en!! People need to pay attention to what these First Nations communities are saying. Their words have importance for ALL of us.


Dec 04, 2009 15:27 ET
Enbridge Review Panel Already An Infringement of Aboriginal Rights

Attention: Assignment Editor, Business/Financial Editor, Environment Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor

FORT FRASER, BC, PRESS RELEASE--(Marketwire - Dec. 4, 2009) - Today's announcement of the finalization of the Joint Review Panel Agreement for the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline is a step in the wrong direction and will not deliver the certainty sought by Enbridge and the federal government with respect to Aboriginal rights and title.

"People need to know that any project that enters this federal process has a more than 99% chance of getting approved," said Chief Larry Nooski. "To Nadleh Whut'en, this is not an open and transparent process, it is not real governance or decision-making, but it is a direct infringement of our constitutional right to Aboriginal governance."

Nadleh Whut'en has been proposing a parallel Aboriginal rights and title process for four years with both Enbridge and the federal government, both of whom have flat-out rejected the proposals. Recent court cases on Aboriginal rights have strongly indicated that there must be consultation on the review process itself, where large projects such as the Enbridge pipeline are concerned. The courts have also indicated that Aboriginal rights are not limited to hunting and fishing, but to governance over lands not ceded to the Crown.

"We want to send a clear message to potential investors in this project that the federal government cannot be trusted to properly address Aboriginal rights and title issues," said Nooski. "This blatant disregard for our traditional governance processes will continue to pose a major legal risk to the project's viability."

Nadleh Whut'en territory is located in the Northern interior of BC, between Fraser Lake and Babine Lake. The Enbridge pipelines propose to cross approximately 50km of Nadleh Whut'en territory, including a crossing of the Sutherland River, a significant habitat for numerous types of fish. Nadleh Whut'en environmental concerns are well documented in the 2006 Aboriginal Interests and Use Study (Carrier Sekani Tribal Council).

Chief Nooski concluded: "Our territory has never been surrendered to the Crown. We are seeking a true government-to-government process with the federal government for the review of the Enbridge project. We are prepared to defend our rights and title through all necessary means, including through the Canadian courts."
/For further information: Chief Larry Nooski, Nadleh Whut'en (250) 690-7211/

Nak'azdli issues statement on Mt. Milligan gold/copper mine

P.O. Box 1329, Fort St. James, B.C. V0J 1P0
Telephone (250) 996 – 7171
Fax (250) 996 – 8010

For Immediate Release
December 3, 2009: “The federal government has joined the BC government in riding roughshod over the law and disrespecting the Courts by granting environmental assessment approval to Terrane Metals plans to open a low grade copper and gold mine on Nak’azdli traditional lands,” Chief Fred Sam said today. “We are the people who live here therefore shouldn’t we decide if a mine is ‘not likely to have significant adverse environmental effects’ not a Federal Minister in Ottawa who has never been to Shus Nadloh?” asked Chief Sam.

As with BC’s earlier approval, the federal approval for the Mt. Milligan (Shus Nadloh) mine is a flagrant violation of the Court-ordered duty to consult with First Nations and must be overturned. It violates Canadian constitutional law that requires Canada to assess impacts of a proposed project on Aboriginal rights and title at every stage of federal approval, and the federal government has failed to respect our decision-making authority on Nak‘azdli lands.

“Given this information and the fact that Nak‘azdli have already filed its case against the Province’s approval and a court date is set for March 22, investors in this project still have nothing to celebrate”, said Chief Sam.

“The provincial government might be desperate to take the edge off its surprise record deficits and its planned HST tax grab by implying that major mining projects are about to make their return to BC, and the federal government might think there is political gain to be made in BC with a possible election looming next spring,” said Chief Sam

“Investors and the public need to be aware that the province and federal government ignored all of our concerns about the impacts of this proposed mine on our traditional lands and their vital headwaters and watersheds, and snubbed all our efforts to be involved in a meaningful environmental review process,” Chief Sam said.

“Their cavalier dismissal of Nak‘azdli was made clear when, despite the fact this mine will be built on our traditional lands, neither government saw fit to inform us of their approval,” said Chief Sam. “We had to find out from the media.”

Chief Sam said investors should ask themselves if they really believe the courts will accept political considerations and corporate needs as justification for the blatant violation of their rulings and the law. “And those in the local area who believe the promised jobs will make up for any destruction of the land and environment should ask themselves if they really understand the dangers,” he said. “And do they really believe that local unemployed people will get the good jobs, rather than experienced but unemployed miners from other parts of the province?”
Nak‘azdli have tried to avoid confrontation by seeking a way to be properly consulted and included in the review processes, but once again a First Nation in BC is forced to meet its duty to protect its aboriginal rights and title by asking the courts to yet again relate to its previous rulings. Given the government’s approach to date, the the Terrane Metals proposal (backstopped by Goldcorp.) risks turning into another Mackenzie Valley pipeline debacle that will still be just an idea after 35 years of discussions. “This project has already been shelved once and without Nak’azdli’s support the proposed Mt. Milligan project could be shelved again” added Chief Fred Sam.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

alpaca socks, trees & trappers

This weekend is the Kelly Road Secondary School craft fair where locals have opportunity to sell their crafts, preserves & other items. I remember going to that craft fair a couple of years ago and it went on and on and on. . . so many people participating!

Here is a notice from Russ Purvis at Kakwa Ecovillage about the alpaca socks he will be selling there!

(note: these socks are not always available in Prince George other than when Russ attends at summer's Farmers' Markets downtown)

Season's Greetings! 2009 is almost complete. Many traditions acknowledge the shortest day of the year (the Solstice) in the N. Hemisphere and the longest in the Southern. Christmas and Hanukkah arrive this time of year and gift giving is atradition. We have available a portion of our annual reward for being Alpaca shepherds: Several hundred pair of silky soft and snuggly Alpaca socks forthose still looking for special gifts. They are light brown or grey colors. Sizes are 4-6 small, 7-9 medium, 10-12 large, 13-15 extra large. To order visit our Store: .

Note: all natural fibres (forlongest wear) should be hand washed and air dried. There is still time to ship and have them arrive before the Holidays for most locations. But don’t delay or your gift may arrive late! Thank you for considering the support of our sustainable business!

Russ Purvis
General Manager
Kakwa Ecovillage Cooperative

On another note, local author Jack Boudreau will be at Books and Co. 1-5 pm today with his new book Trappers & Trailblazers -- his books are awesome for anyone wanting to know about the wild & sometimes rather crazy history of tough trappers & homesteaders around this area. . . I will write more about him later. . .

Also the festival of trees continues at the Civic Centre - hosted by the Spirit of the North Foundation as a fundraiser. There is something quite magical about this community event. . .

snow is really starting to fall now.
Let's hope it is here to stay. Let's get on with winter!
I mean, we are Canadians eh!

Friday, November 27, 2009

boo for Canada : (

Scientists target Canada over climate changeBuzz up!
Digg it
Damian Carrington,
Thursday 26 November 2009 22.54 GMT

Prominent campaigners, politicians and scientists have called for Canada to be suspended from the Commonwealth over its climate change policies.

The coalition's demand came before this weekend's Commonwealth heads of government summit in Trinidad and Tobago, at which global warming will top the agenda, and next month's UN climate conference in Copenhagen. Despite criticism of Canada's environmental policies, the prime minister, Stephen Harper, is to attend the Copenhagen summit. His spokesman said today: "We will be attending the Copenhagen meeting … a critical mass of world leaders will be attending."

Canada's per capita greenhouse gas emissions are among the world's highest and it will not meet the cut required under the Kyoto protocol: by 2007 its emissions were 34% above its reduction target. It is exploiting its vast tar sands reserves to produce oil, a process said to cause at least three times the emissions of conventional oil extraction.

The coalition claims Canada is contributing to droughts, floods and sea level rises in Commonwealth countries such as Bangladesh, the Maldives and Mozambique. Clare Short, the former international development secretary, said: "Countries that fail to help [tackle global warming] should be suspended from membership, as are those that breach human rights."

The World Development Movement, the Polaris Institute in Canada and Greenpeace are among the organisations supporting the plan. Saleemul Huq, a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said: "If the Commonwealth is serious about holding its members to account, then threatening the lives of millions of people in developing countries should lead to the suspension of Canada's membership immediately."

Canada's environment department refused to comment on the call for it to be suspended.

The Commonwealth comprises 53 states representing 2 billion people. In the past it has suspended Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and South Africa for electoral or human rights reasons. Speaking earlier this week, its secretary general, Kamalesh Sharma, said: "I would like to think that our definition of serious violations could embrace much more than it does now."

singing about mining

I attended the Rita MacNeil/ Men of the Deeps "A Mining the Soul" Christmas concert at the CN Centre in Prince George last evening. It was the first stop on their planned cross-country tour. They will be back in their homeland of Cape Breton in time for Christmas.

Rita MacNeil is a beautiful woman - I felt like I was sitting in her firelit living room having a cup of tea with her throughout the whole of the performance. 29 men on the stage with her and she outshone all of them! At 65 years old, her powerful voice is as strong as ever. She is truly a Canadian icon, of the kind we need more! I particularly appreciated her song about a pine-cone decorated Christmas party held in a one-room schoolhouse and leaving the party through the falling snow! It was so very cozy and evocative of a rural Canadian landscape we do not ever want to lose in this country because it is really our most precious asset.

As for the Men of the Deeps, well I did not really know about them before this concert, but they have made a new fan out of me. What a presence they are on the stage! 24 of them came walking up onto the stage in line in their mining outfits, their mining lamps shining on their foreheads. Anyone with bluenoser roots I think could appreciate this group and their down to earth(literally) tunes about the tragedies, the challenges, kinship and incredible stories about going deep into the earth to mine the coal. The story about the deaths at Westray Mine and the little children the killed miners left behind brought tears to my eyes, so too did the story about tinfoil from lunchkits used to decorate the Christmas tree & pepsi cans used to make Christmas tree stars because the miners were too poor to do otherwise. The men sang very haunting music, a blending of industrial endeavour and the Maritimes' incredible & enduring musical and storytelling legacy.

I could not help but think how interesting it would be if here in northern BC an area where many people work closely with the earth in various professions (forestry, mining come immediately to mind) turned to artistic expression to let others know about their experiences. Very powerful.

I got some tea from Rita's teahouse in Cape Breton & left the concert with a perma-smile. I don't think anyone left without being really impressed.
It was great & most definitely soulful.
Thanks to Rita & the Men of the Deeps.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

actions addressing poverty in Prince George

St. Vincent de Paul has just recently produced a black and white calendar as a fundraiser for their services. It features beautiful people from around town. The calendar can be purchased at various venues around town. I got one at Ave Maria for $15.99.

On a similar note, the Northern Women’s Forum is Hosting the 7th Annual Chili Blanket Event coming up on December 5, 2009. Unfortunately, due to the poverty in the city, the need for this event in Prince George does not seem to diminish from year to year and has become a yearly event. The below information taken directly from a recent media release:

Everyone is invited to: Chili Blanket VII
Prince George Courthouse
Saturday, December 5, 2009: noon- 2:00 pm

Come Out and Rally Against the Increasing Poverty in BC

Join the NWF in speaking up for British Columbians who are losing their jobs, services, and rights to financial assistance in OLYMPIC numbers!

This Year the BC Government wins GOLD for:

*making the poor invisible: those you count you try to make invisible & those

you can’t count are already invisible

* beating out Alberta in the increase use of food banks: only 90,000 people used food

banks in a month in BC ; BC saw 75% of its food banks report increased use

*being the top dog in Child Poverty… once again

* HST – wow, BC is really a winner

* a homeless person dies every 12 days in BC

* a single employable person got a welfare increase in 2007 to $610/month- average

rent in BC is $672.

The Northern Women’s Forum will be serving hot chili, hot chocolate, cool music and sharp talk!

Once again this year the NWF is also collecting blankets and winter wear for those in need and agencies serving those in need in Prince George.

The Northern Women’s Forum would like to thank this year’s sponsors: Status of Women, FACNC, Confederation of Canadian Unions, PG & District Labour Council, and the BCGEU.

For information: please contact Jan Mastromatteo: 250-564-7880, or

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Warhol in Prince George

I love Los Angeles. I love Hollywood. They're beautiful. Everybody's plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic. ~ Andy Warhol

can you believe that we currently have actual Andy Warhols in the Prince George (Two Rivers) Art Gallery?
Jackie II (1966), Lincoln Center (1967), Liz (1967) and Mao (1972) are here.

Don't you just want to pull on your go-go boots, stuff your hat over your eyes, your hands in your threadbare pockets and head down there through Prince George's slushy winter-slogging streets?

Mao is particularly impressive as is Liz, especially her bright blue eye shadow vibrant against a red backdrop. There is even a (real) Campbell soup display at the art gallery which will eventually transform into a food hamper donation. . . funny how everyone's food hamper donations these days tend to be Campbells anyway, no questions asked. That was easy.

The art display entitled "Pops Display" was prefaced by an opening held last Thursday evening complete with delicious hors d'oeuvres (even jelly beans but there were certainly more elegant fingerfoods on hand too), wine and bright fruit punches.
Meow Music provided music a la 1960s. Truly, a complete fusion of arts in its various sensory delights. The art gallery describes pop art a "a fun and kitschy movement" and so too was this fine opening event complete with all sorts of folks dressed in 1960s garb (note to self: some fine 1960s woolen mini-dresses may be found in the Prince George Vallu-Village).

The description of the art show explains, "An explosion of popular imagery and everyday signs and symbols into the world of fine art began to occur in the late 1950s and early 1960s." The art is further described as graphically tidy and accoustically simple.

I did not happen to be around in the late 1950s nor early 1960s so this movement seems really very historic to me, but what I am intrigued by is that these commercial things that nowadays we have come to accept as mundane routine reality surrounding us wherever we go, were during that era coming to be viewed as interesting sources of art. Advertising was then really starting to come into its own and take off. The western world was really starting to become the saturated materialistic place it has now come to be.

Here is another interesting Warhol quote which perhaps explains why he found it so interesting to focus on the artistic merits as such regular things as Campbell's soup tins & Coca Cola:

What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coca Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca Cola, and just think, you can drink Coca Cola, too. A coke is a coke and no amount of money can get you a better coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the cokes are the same and all the cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

Warhol and other pop artists moved away from hand-drawn images, preferring instead a kind of print making/ silkscreening approach to depicting popular consumer products, ads and celebrities. Reflective of this basic pop art experience, the Two Rivers' Gallery show includes an interactive "make art make sense" activity. Visitors to the museum may have a quadruple image of themselves made on the computer then use the materials provided to colour and create a Pop-inspred self portrait.

All totalled, this Two Rivers display (on tour from the Vancouver Art Gallery under a provincial touring program) is tons of fun, and as Warhol put it,

"Once you 'got' Pop, you could never see a sign again the same way again. And once you thought Pop, you could never see America the same way again."

Whatever that means. . .

letters to oil companies to say no to Enbridge pipeline

Dogwood Initiative based in Victoria BC is organizing a letter writing campaign for people to state their opposition to the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway oil pipeline project through northern BC ---

The letters will be sent to these potential backers of the pipeline:

Mr. Brian Livingston (VP and Counsel - Imperial Oil (Exxon) )
Mr. John Lau (CEO Husky Energy)
Mr. J. Kenneth Alley (Executive Vice Chairman - Suncor Energy)
Mr. Byeong-il Kim (Korea National Oil Corporation)
Mr. Rick George (CEO Suncor Energy)
Mr. John Watson (Chairman and CEO of Chevron Corporation)
Mr. Han Hua (Managing Director - CNPC Alberta Petroleum Center)
Ms. Lorraine Mitchelmore (President and CEO - Shell Canada Ltd. )
Mr. Hyunyong Kim (Korea National Oil Corporation)
Ms. Jean-Michel Gires (President and CEO - Total E&P Canada Ltd. )

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Prince George's "Anti-Idling Fairy" & Ant-Sized Maps

Although this post from Opinion 250 here in Prince George ( is kind of old (dating back to Nov 6/09) it is also kind of quirky & funny so I am posting it here. . .

First It Was The Air Fairy-Now It's The Idling Fairy
By Ben Meisner
Friday, November 06, 2009 03:46 AM
First we have the Air Care Fairy, now we have the, Idle Free Fairy (Ambassador as City Hall calls it), we are definitely moving up.
Let’s start with the new, ”Idle Free Fairy” whose motto should be, "You fink and we create a stink”. They have started off with a bang.
From the public comes reports that there have been people idling their vehicles at Tim’s (my God what a surprise), Canadian Tire Car wash, (double my God what a surprise), UNBC, Spruceland, The Super Store and Oh God, North Nechako Rd. (Oh God that could be me, I feel like a criminal already). Mess up by idling your rig and we will give you a sticky, and if you don’t shape up we will give you a sign, not the one I had in mind either.
Whoa we do have a lot of time on our hands in the City to come up with these hair brain ideas, trying to make a comparison where it is not uncommon to reach -30 below and marrying that to the 604 where minus -5 they lose control of their senses. I wonder aloud at what temperature the City Council loses control of its senses?
Now can the new Idle Free Fairy have the power to climb aboard one of those CN locomotives sitting in their yards idling for several hours? Of course not, unless she is able to change it into a Volkswagen, sorree she has no authority. It’s you bums that she wants , those people that do the serious polluting have their own Fairy, it’s called "Clout".
Well just to make your blood boil a bit more so that you won’t have to idle your vehicle to keep warm, you will soon be hit by the Air Care Fairy, who has the power to drop a brochure off at your house and suggest you should quit burning wood. The reply to that knock on the door is not fit to print.
Here we go again, after discovering that golly Gee Whiz it wasn’t grandma who was responsible for the smoke in the air, and more over through some very serious investigations we were able to ascertain that one in four homes in PG did not burn wood, we have found a new way to get you. Send in the Fairies, they wave a wand and you won't believe it, the air is clean and fit again.
Did one of those arresting officers who found all that BC bud this week leave it in front of City Hall for a few days because the question "what have they been smoking?" does enter one’s mind.
I’m Meisner and that’s one man’s opinion.

Thanks Ben.

So more on the Prince George air quality issues from my perspective. . .

PG AIR (Prince George Air Improvement Roundtable) the multi-stakeholder group (industry, government, concerned citizens, health organizations) vested with the responsibility of cleaning up this air shed has come up with this idea for an "idling hot spot map" on their website to pinpoint sources of idling in the city -just tried to input my concerns about the 7 Tim Hortons drive-thrus in town but realized, you basically need to be the size of an ant or a pinhead yourself to be able to utilize this map. Go ahead try it:, and if you can figure it out, please let me know.

. . . . did it work !? What happened when I tried is that I clicked on the map to try to get it to zoom into the close proximity at least of where I know the annoying air polluting things to be (not just Timmy's to be fair - could throw in a refinery, about three pulpmills, some chemical plants and at least one pellet plant and some other stuff like Burger King's grease-emitting fry-maker, parking lots with idlers trying to keep their vehicles warm while they shop for an hour,

but when I went to click on the map a balloon came up right away asking me for my concern -- it did not afford me the opportunity to get too precise with my info! So this more-than-pin-sized fairy went away, not having made my air quality submission.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

cranberries on stick branches

I am trying to get up the energy to get myself up to Cranbrook Hill today to the cranberry bog I found there, where the wild cranberries still hang like frosted bright rubies from barren branches in the snow-chilled forest. It's a car-free weekend so option are: bus (very infrequent schedule or walk -- over an hour one way through the cold). Could bike but would rather use studded tires which I don't have. I have gotten as far as donning a woolen touque and layers of long underwear & woollen garments. . . winter is drawing near, the first of snows now covers the Prince George landscape -- not yet enough to go cross-country skiing (can't wait!)

Later, we are going to a lantern walk in honour of St. Martin's day - a friend from Germany is organizing it. I love the idea of a candlelit walk to add cheer to the early cold darkness of a mid-November day.

Tomorrow afternoon, I shall go to Prince George Symphony Orchestra's 'Go for Baroque' featuring Bach (Orchestral suite no. 2 in b minor & violin concerto no.2 in e major), Purcell (the fairy queen suite no. 1) & Handel (water music, suite no. 1).

As the quiet season descends on the north, such reflective music seems most appropriate.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

more on Mount Milligan proposed mine near Prince George BC

Further to my blog entry on October 30, 2009, about the proposed Mount Milligan gold/copper mine in north central British Columbia (northwest of Prince George),

members of the public have until tomorrow, November 12, 2009, to submit comments to Environment Canada about the possibility of amending the Metal Mining Effluent Regulation pursuant to the federal Fisheries Act to have King Richard Creek & Alpine Creek added to Schedule 2 of said regulation. . .

meaning in other words, if they are added to this schedule,

they will no longer be fish-bearing creeks.

They will be "tailings impoundment areas" for the mine.

Comments can be sent to:
Chris Doiron, Chief, Mining Section, Mining and Processing Division
Environment Canada
351 St. Joseph Boulevard, Gatineau, Quebec KIA 0H3
Email: (sea to sands conservation alliance)

Sea to Sands Conservation Alliance ( started here in Prince George for British Columbians who are concerned about/ oppose Enbridge's plan to construct Northern Gateway Pipeline (crude oil)from tar sands to north Pacific coast (Kitimat inlet). group started on facebook.

see also

Friday, November 6, 2009

"a cup of social justice" in Prince George

Please forward this notice (below) put together by the Global Friday group UNBC for this Global “Thursday” event! UNBC Geography Department is a co-sponsor.

Thursday November 12, 2009:

UNBC Room 7-152 2:30 pm

Evening event: 7:00-9:00pm @ ArtSpace (above Books & Co)

"A cup of social justice - fair trade coffee and land reform in Guatemala"

Guest speaker is Lesbia Morales Sican, with the Campesino Committee of the Highlands - Lesbia is a member of CCDA (Guatemala) national executive, women's economic development coordinator & responsible for marketing their coffee product, Cafe Justicia.

Lesbia will speak and will show a short documentary movie “Madre Tierra” (Mother Earth).

Blurb for the CCDA documentary that Lesbia will screen: MADRE Tierra - a CCDA/Prowse production, approx 25 minutes:

"For centuries, the distribution of land has been at the centre of Guatemala's violent story. Guatemala has the most unequal land distribution in the Americas, and campesino farmers struggling to feed their families are facing ever greater obstacles to gaining access to a plot of land. "Madre Tierra" follows one campesino organization, the Campesino Committee of the Highlands, as they work to get land into the hands of the campesino families who have worked it for centuries."

Nigerian speakers at UNBC

On "Global Friday" at the University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George BC (November 6, 2009), two Nigerians spoke to a full room about the work of the NGOs they work with & the incredible challenges facing Nigeria as they attempt to bring about sustainable development in that country - that is, development that will factor in the well being of the environment and future generations. I had previously done some reading on what is transpiring in the Niger Delta with oil extraction, and I was curious to hear directly from people who live in that country about their experiences

The two speakers were Juliet Olory, Project Coordinator, Development in Nigeria (DIN) and Godwin Ugah, Program Director, Council for Renewable Energy in Nigeria (CREN). They have been travelling around British Columbia for the last 2 months with joint sponsorship by two Canada-based organizations One Sky and BCCIC. . .

One Sky is an organization based a 2-4 day bike ride down the road (or train tracks) from Prince George in Smithers, British Columbia -- here is the description of what they are all about (looks like an incredibly cool northern BC-based organization!)

Although some might call us an environmental NGO we like to think of ourselves in broader terms that include human rights, human well-being and even human potential. Others might think of us as a development NGO because we work in developing nations but we like to think we are developing ourselves and searching for mutual solutions in a globalized world.

BCCIC is British Columbia Council for International Cooperation & here is their description:

BCCIC is a coalition of BC voluntary international development organizations and provincial branches of such organizations which are committed to achieving sustainable global development in a peaceful and healthy environment, with social justice, human dignity and participation for all.

Juliet spoke first - she discussed the work of Development in Nigeria in assisting to development sustainable livelihoods for people in rural Nigeria - they have a number of programs to build capacity, develop sustainable land use, empower locals & develop programs such as education. She also discussed how Nigeria is the 7th largest oil producer in the world producing 2.4 million barrels/ day (the oil being extracted by the big boy oil companies among them Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron) & despite this huge oil extraction, the average Nigerian lives on less than $1/ day in an increasingly polluted environment -- regular oil flaring, thick oil slicks on water. Most towns in the region of big oil development have no services - the people live extremely rudimentary, impovershed - and contaminated - lives.

Godwin Ugah then presented information about the work of the Council for Renewable Energy (CREN), another NGO in Nigeria. The goal of this organization is to look for, promote & help develop alternatives to fossil fuel based energy sources there - he spoke about how Nigeria is considered the 5th most polluted place in the world due to the constant gas flaring. Violence has become commonplace in the Niger Delta in response to the extreme exploitation and harsh poverty that the oil extraction in the area has imposed on the people. Godwin mentioned that the country is rapidly being deforested & turned to desert - despite Nigeria being such a prominent oil producer in the world, the people of Nigeria do not have access to the oil & burn the wood of the forests instead - compared to Canada's 2.32 million barrels / day of oil used (wow it all adds up doesn't it ?!), the country of Nigeria only uses a total of 275,000 barrels/ day.
The goal of CREN is to move wind & solar energy use ahead for the people of Nigeria. He cited government policies (and corruption) as major hurdles - the major oil companies enter into deals with the government but virtually no benefits flow to the people who live in poverty and pollution with no services. Godwin spoke about how the potential for good and evil dwells within each of us & expresses itself in the world in the choices we make & how we choose to conduct ourselves in relation to the rest of the world -- do we carry on with a status quo that may be destructive or take the steps to co-create a new (more sustainable) way of being?

One of the attendees of the talk (not me!) mentioned some of the parallels between what is happening in Nigeria and what is increasingly happening in Canada with the tar sands and big oil & gas here & plans to expand same. . . .

Kim Struthers from One Sky in Smithers also addressed Shell's plan to drill for oil in the Sacred Headwaters of northwest BC - she said if it went ahead, northern BC could become another Nigeria. On a related note, I was happy to hear Wade Davis' Massey Lecture (CBC) in which he addressed this very point. . .

he spoke of how the Sacred Headwaters of northern British Columbia could be a Sacred Headwaters for all of Canada.

Some things are simply sacred, despite how many big oil (or gas or mining for that matter) company dollars might be at stake.

How did money come to be treated with more reverance than all that is sacred in the world, like these special places? . . .

Like the Niger Delta for instance.
Like the Sacred Headwaters of BC.
Like the rivers & creeks that flow through the lands upon which we dwell.
Like the oceans.
Like the land.
Like the planet Earth.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

here's for the sockeye!

I never thought I would say these words but: thank you Mr. Harper. For what? For calling today for a judicial inquiry into the reasons for the collapse of the Fraser sockeye runs.
I received email notification via west coast biologist Alexandra Morton's distribution email list earlier today - she was ecstatic as she has been calling for this inquiry for some time -- the only question I have is about the timeline for the inquiry -- results by May 2011 - isn't that a bit late when we have numbers like 71 sockeye (!) being counted in the Nechako watershed this year according to a previous email I received.

Here is the Globe & Mail article:

Ottawa to probe B.C.'s declining salmon stocks
Prime Minister announces judicial inquiry, called 'our chance to save B.C. salmon from going the way of Atlantic cod'

Mark Hume and Bill Curry

Vancouver and Ottawa — From Friday's Globe and Mail Published on Thursday, Nov. 05, 2009 7:52PM EST Last updated on Thursday, Nov. 05, 2009 8:08PM EST

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to hold a judicial inquiry into the collapse of sockeye salmon stocks in British Columbia is being called a last, best hope to avert a fisheries disaster on the West Coast.
“This is our chance to save B.C. salmon from going the way of Atlantic cod,” Phil Eidsvik, a spokesman for the B.C. Fisheries Survival Coalition, said Thursday after Mr. Harper's surprise announcement in Ottawa.
“It's a slim chance, but it's great news because we know there are ways to protect and save the run,” he said. “We know the department has been unable, for whatever reason, to do it – and only an inquiry will get to those reasons.”
The announcement, which will be fleshed out Friday by Stockwell Day, the regional minister for B.C., could have immediate political impact because the salmon crisis is a key issue in Monday's federal by-election in New Westminster-Coquitlam.
NDP Leader Jack Layton is arriving Friday to campaign over the weekend with his candidate, Fin Donnelly, a strong environmental advocate who once swam the length of the Fraser River to underscore the plight of salmon and who has been calling for an inquiry.
Demands for an inquiry escalated this fall after the Fraser River sockeye run collapsed – with only about one million fish returning to spawn when between 10 million and 13 million had been expected.
Mr. Harper made the announcement in the House of Commons.
“We are very concerned about the low and falling returns of sockeye salmon in British Columbia,” he said, adding that Mr. Day would provide details today.
“[He] will be making an announcement outlining the terms of reference for a judicial inquiry, as well as the judge who will lead that inquiry,” Mr. Harper said.
The public inquiry will be mandated to report back to the government on or before May 1, 2011. It will have complete authority to hold hearings, summon witnesses and gather evidence as needed.
“An inquiry has access to all DFO documents and they can bring people in and they testify under oath, with the chance of going to jail if they lie,” Mr. Eidsvik said. “And a judicial inquiry is the only format for that to happen. It gives us the best chance to get at the truth as to what's happened to our salmon runs.”
Alexandra Morton, an independent scientist, said the inquiry needs to examine in detail the reasons why some 130 million salmon smolts, which migrated out of the Fraser, never returned from the ocean.
“The establishment of a judicial inquiry into the management of the Fraser River sockeye fishery gives new hope for the future of a great salmon river,” said Conservative MP John Cummins, who has long sought just such an investigation into DFO.
“We face a disaster of epic proportions on the Fraser. In six out of the last 11 years the fishery has been closed. Tens of thousands of B.C. families have suffered as a result,” he said.
The Conservatives had promised an inquiry into B.C.'s salmon fishery before – during the 2006 campaign – but Vancouver Island North Tory MP John Duncan said the initial resistance to the idea that surfaced then has since passed.
“We now have the circumstances where it's not about finger pointing any more. It's about getting to the bottom of what's actually going on,” he said, explaining that at the time of the original commitment there was some resistance from the fishing industry and first nations.
But he said that has changed .
Clarence Pennier, Grand Chief of the Stó:lô Tribal Council, welcomed the announcement, saying native communities along the Fraser are in “despair” over the failure of the sockeye run.
“We are in the dark as to why the sockeye runs didn't make it back to the river. We are still looking for the answers and this is why we support a judicial inquiry,” Chief Pennier said.
Rafe Mair, a public commentator and environmental advocate, said with pressure building for an inquiry, Mr. Harper had no choice but to act.
“I don't think they are really taking any political risks here,” he said. “I don't think people would blame Harper for the crash.… they would, however, pin it on him if he didn't have an inquiry. He had to do it.”
Alex Rose, author of Who Killed the Grand Banks: The Untold Story Behind the Decimation of One of the World's Greatest Natural Resources , said an inquiry could help reshape DFO and alter the fate of B.C. salmon.
“I applaud Mr. Harper on this decision,” he said. “It's long overdue and I hope we get the chance to look at the failed mechanisms in DFO, a department I consider intellectually bankrupt.”

This inquiry follows very shortly after a recent report commissioned by the Pembina Institute out of Alberta which addressed the potential devastating effects that Enbridge oil pipeline (any oil pipeline actually) would have on salmon stocks in British Columbia's major river systems as oil spills are bound to happen. . .

Here is the summary off their website

Pipelines and Salmon in Northern British ColumbiaPotential Impacts
Published: Oct 16, 2009
By: Pembina Institute et al.

Four major pipeline projects have been proposed for northern British Columbia over the next five years, including the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project. All of the proposed pipelines would cross and at times run parallel to important salmon habitats in the Upper Fraser, Skeena and Kitimat watersheds. This report provides an overview of salmon resources in the affected watersheds and examines how pipeline construction and operation would impact salmon; the likelihood of spills; and the impacts of a spill on salmon. The four page fact sheet, "Oil and Salmon Don't Mix," highlights the importance of salmon in northern British Columbia and gives an overview of the risks posed to salmon by the Enbridge oil sands pipelines.

Here is what the Province newspaper reported:
(where is the other media coverage of this report!?)

Proposed Enbridge pipeline threat to northern B.C. fish streams: Report
Institute warns ruptures could prove 'catastrophic'

By Business Reporter, The Province

October 20, 2009

Enbridge's proposed $4.5-billion pipeline across northern B.C. would pose serious risks to fish habitat, an Alberta-based group says.
The Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines would threaten some of Canada's most productive salmon streams, the non-profit Pembina Institute said yesterday.
"Pipeline construction, ruptures and leaks all pose serious risks to salmon, making the Enbridge oilsands pipelines a toxic proposal for salmon and the communities that depend on them," the institute said in releasing a report on the proposed project.
"Given the likelihood of a pipeline failure and the difficulty of cleaning up spills in fast-moving river systems, even the best construction and operating practices could not eliminate the risks."
The dual-pipeline project would carry petroleum 1,170 kilometres from near Edmonton to Kitimat and condensate from Kitimat to Edmonton.
The pipelines would cross and, in certain places, run parallel to salmon streams in B.C.'s Upper Fraser, Skeena and Kitimat watersheds, the institute said. The watersheds are home to chinook, sockeye, chum, coho and pink salmon and steelhead trout, among other species.
"A significant leak or rupture near salmon habitat in the Skeena, Kitimat or Upper Fraser watersheds could be catastrophic ," Pembina said.
Enbridge says it invests heavily in leak-detection technology and is committed to operating the project to the highest environmental and safety standards.
There is an average of one rupture every 16 years for every 1,000 km of pipeline in Canada, according to a separate report cited by Pembina.
The proposed project will be subject to regulatory review by the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

So again I say: thanks Mr. Harper for the salmon judicial inquiry . . .
and now, what about the tar sands expansion & associated proposed crude oil pipelines to the west coast?
If these issues are addressed, then Canada will really be getting somewhere.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

facing up to November in Prince George

I have to admit I have been doing some cocooning as of late, and recently speaking to a town elder, I realize I am not alone. He observed: people tend to cocoon around here. I mentioned to him I thought the time had come that Prince George could do with a funky theatre downtown (you know, the kind of place that shows interesting thought-provoking movies, maybe even a pianist and the odd lecture would be good. . . ) - this particular elder responded,

it's been done here, it's all been done. Around and around we go, ideas repeating themselves in this town!

Yes I have been cocooning as of late, but truth be told: it is November in Prince George.

November. . . truly the bleakest month in this part of the world, OK, well February is not far behind, but at least we have the Iceman & Valentine's Day then. . . and spring just around the corner.

November though is simply cold & stark. Leaves are gone from the trees, evenings are dark (actually latter part of afternoons are dark), a strange kind of twilight masks half-frozen dog poo lurking on grassy spaces and sidewalk curbs, the weather is cold, the snow (and associated snow sports) have not yet arrived on the scene. . .

Redeeming qualities (if any) of November in Prince George --
- craft fairs (just about one every weekend) and man, we have some really talented crafts people & preserves-preparers around here
- chance to wear somewhat stylish woolen hats, coats and boots
- other. . . ummm. . . give me a moment.

OK then, things to do in a Prince George November:

- go to cafes and drink coffee and read papers or magazines (my favourites hangouts include Books & Co, Zoes, Sassafras Savouries)
- rent a whole bunch of DVDs
- jog or walk clad in bright flourescent vest, touque, mitts and long johns
- swim (if you can tolerate great doses of chlorine)
- meditate by a candle (not all month, an hour or 2 a week or even a day will do!) - and while you are at it warm yourself up on the candle to save on fossil fuel emissions heating
- read (or write) poetry
- just learned about toonie Tuesdays at UNBC sports centre - but let's ration that one to avoid swine-flu promoting crowds (have I mentioned how fed up I am with H1N1?)
- go Christmas shopping (or window shopping) - I recommend Dandy Lines downtown for the most aesthetically pleasing environment and JJ Springer across the street for the coziest
- blog, email or play around on facebook
- go to aforementioned craft fairs to buy black currant jelly, woolen slippers & wooden toys
- check out UNBC poster boards for interesting academic speakers
- rake leftover leaves (OK, can be boring, but at least a workout!)
- go to Remembrance Day events and wear a red poppy

Hmmm, other ideas would be gladly appreciated - fortunately December (and hopefully snow!) are just around the corner!

Monday, November 2, 2009

in defense of potatoes

Here is an article I found in the Tyee today which picks up on themes/ issues I wrote about in an article about John Ryser and his Nooksak (nooksack) potato in the Aug/Sept09 edition of Northword Magazine

Glad to see Prince George potato grower John Ryser is getting some provincial profile!

The Potato Underground
How the 'outlaw' Cariboo spud, once blacklisted by agribiz advocates, was saved. Latest in our Eat Your History series.
Joanne Will, 29 Oct 2009,

When Jerry LeBourdais learned that big agribusiness couldn't handle the Cariboo potato, he knew he'd found a variety that he wanted to support. The name didn't hurt either. If there was a potato out there named "Cariboo," it had a natural home on the back-to-the-land commune near Williams Lake that LeBourdais had founded.
All he needed was some seed. It sounded simple enough.
"Jerry wanted to get a hold of some, and asked me where," recalls John Ryser, a prize-winning seed potato farmer who lives south of Prince George. Ryser told him it wouldn't be easy, because the potato had been decertified for seed production in 1976. By the time LeBourdais came calling in 1983, the Cariboo spud had been banned for seven years and Ryser had given up growing the variety.
"I kept the Cariboo going for years," says Ryser. "The big cheeses de-listed it because it would hang on to the vines." Government officials may prohibit varieties for reasons ranging from disease susceptibility to a tendency to snarl farm equipment; industrial potato farmers want plants that harvest easily with machinery. "Once a variety is de-listed, if you grow it, they'll cancel your seed grower's licence."
But chance and luck launched a new chapter in the history of the Cariboo potato. During a spring meeting at the government experimental farm in Prince George in 1984, a visiting horticulturalist showed up with samples of all kinds of varieties, including Cariboo potatoes from the former Vancouver Research Station in Pemberton.
"Before it was all done, I got four or five of his six Cariboo potatoes and gave them to Jerry," says Ryser. "Then Jerry got in hot water because he was bragging about it, and they started calling it the 'Outlaw Potato.'"

The Cariboo potato rush
The Cariboo region is known today for beef and alfalfa, but a richer farming history stretches back to the gold rush of the early 1860s. Settlers began farming to feed the miners, who otherwise had to pay a premium for whatever fresh foods could survive being mule-hauled up the Cariboo wagon road.
The Cariboo gained a reputation for quality potatoes, explains Denis Kirkham, a retired seed potato specialist who worked in B.C. for the federal Ministry of Agriculture for four decades. In the "heyday" years after World War Two, he says, there were 35 seed potato growers in a belt spanning from McCleese Lake, just north of Williams Lake, to Hixon, just south of Price George.
Yet the Cariboo potato itself has roots about as far from gold-rush country as you can get without leaving Canada. The variety was first bred at the federal Potato Research Centre in Fredericton, New Brunswick, which each year sent seed potatoes out to be tested at a network of experimental farms nationwide. In 1963, one such variety did unusually well in central British Columbia's tough climate. Mike Van Adrichem, then a horticulturalist with the Prince George experimental farm, gave it the Cariboo name. It became popular just as small-scale farming in the region began to face its most challenging times.
"There are lots of reasons potato production in that area declined starting in the '70s," says Kirkham. The Cariboo had a labour shortage, he explains, made worse for farmers by the fact that there was more money to be made in logging and the mills. Freight was costly, too, and made it difficult for the region's family farms to compete with emerging industrial producers in places like Washington and Alberta, and later, global suppliers such as China.
Potato Leek Soup
Many potato leek soups taste thin and weak. The key to this rustic recipe is to use a strong homemade broth and organic heritage potatoes (such as Cariboo potatoes) which have more and better flavour than their supermarket counterparts.
3 c vegetable broth
3 potatoes, peeled
1 tbsp butter
3-4 leeks
1/2 c whole cream
4-5 leaves sage, minced
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/3 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt (less if preferred)
1 dash liquid smoke
Dice one potato and add to broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer until potato can be mashed into broth. Meanwhile, melt butter in a fry pan at medium-low heat. Add sliced leeks, including leek greens, and a pinch of salt, then cover and fry until leeks are soft and golden (about 20 minutes). Add leeks to broth. Add the remaining potatoes, cut into cubes. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring just to a boil at medium heat, then simmer until potatoes are tender to the fork. Serve immediately. Fried sauerkraut makes an excellent garnish.
"Small farmers couldn't compete -- but they certainly did in terms of quality for a bit. They had high disease freedom and quality and that gave them a premium for their extra work," says Kirkham.
John Ryser, who tracked down the Cariboo seed potatoes for Jerry LeBourdais, is one of the area's two remaining seed potato farmers. He remembers starting out in 1937 or '38, getting heck from his dad for not taking proper care of the potatoes on the family farm. At its largest, Ryser's seed potato operation spanned little more than a dozen acres -- tiny by industrial standards.
"Now I've got just a few acres, and have trouble selling what I've got," he says. "All south of Quesnel was growing at one time. Now it's all shipped in from Vancouver and Alberta. They're all buying them from Superstore and Overwaitea, which don't buy local."
An anti-capitalist potato?
It took a rebel to go up against the tide of history. Jerry LeBourdais, who died in 2004, came from a pioneer Cariboo family and was a lifelong social activist, leading a strike at the Burnaby refinery in his early years and later running several times for political office. Yet today, he might be most widely remembered as the Cariboo potato's greatest promoter.
"They grow really well for the northern region," says Jerry's daughter Lorraine LeBourdais. "They're a beautiful white potato, almost yellow, with pink eyes. They have smooth skin, and they grow tall -- you can pick them out in a patch because they're half a foot taller than other varieties. They pull out and then fall off the vine easily, which is exactly what you want for hand harvesting, but they're a nuisance for commercial harvesting -- they tangle in the harvester," says Lorraine. Cariboo potatoes are also known as excellent keepers, with a good size, shape and texture for baking.
Lorraine is a resident member of
CEEDS (Community Enhancement and Economic Development Society), the commune that her father founded, in its original form, in 1971. Today, CEEDS operates three farms near Horse Lake, each on rented or leased land, as the commune does not support the notion of private property.
In 1982, while searching for Cariboo seed, Jerry LeBourdais wrote to the Ministry of Agriculture and was told, "the variety Cariboo can no longer be sold under any name and cannot be grown as seed." The letter continued: "I suggest that you select and grow varieties that can be legally grown in Canada."
CEEDS now grows about a half ton of Cariboo potatoes each year, walking a fine line along the official ban. In 1994,
Harrowsmith magazine published an article on the Cariboo spud and CEEDS received letters from across the continent. Rather than sell the spud, they gave away free seed potatoes to everyone who wrote.
'Anything you can eat or smoke...'
The Cariboo isn't the only potato to have its own underground movement. Currently, momentum is building to save the Nooksak potato, another variety that has proved to be a regional standout in the Cariboo. To maintain a strong gene pool in their crops, seed potato growers must bring in new seed from another grower every seven years -- and John Ryser appears to be the last seed farmer growing the Nooksak. If so, this year's crop will be the last to be certified, and the Nooksak potato will live on only in the gardens of citizen seed-savers.
Backyard spud-saving is a Northwest tradition that goes back farther than almost anyone would expect. The Makah Nation of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington has been gardening the Ozette potato -- named for a Makah community -- since at least 1791, the date when it is believed the potato was brought from South America by Spanish explorers. The potato wasn't recognized outside the Makah community until the 1980s. Likewise, Haida Nation growers raise a fingerling variety, the Haida potato, which may have been acquired by trade or travel even before the Haida met their first Europeans. During the conflicted years that followed, gardeners alone saved the Haida potato from extinction. History is repeating itself with the Cariboo potato today.
"I'm not saying it's the greatest potato that ever lived, but it's got culture and associated history. It's very important and symbolic for what it represents more than anything -- biodiversity and independent local culture," says Bob Sarti, a retired reporter and longtime friend of Jerry LeBourdais. He notes that the legacy of the Cariboo potato is now inseparable from the commune that LeBourdais founded, and its philosophy.
"They're anti-capitalist. They never own land, and always had to move for this reason," says Sarti. "They've been doing continuous, uninterrupted agriculture, and are unique in the fact that very few can support themselves entirely this way.
"Jerry was a larger-than-life person," Sarti continues. "He had quite an impact in the Cariboo with the back-to-the-land movement. Jerry always said anything you can eat or smoke, you should be allowed to grow."
Vancouver-based journalist Joanne Will co-writes the
Eat Your History series with Jeff Nield. The series, guest edited by 100-Mile Diet co-creator James MacKinnon, runs twice a month in The Tyee with support from FarmFolk/CityFolk.

Friday, October 30, 2009

expressed concerns about gold-copper mine near Prince George

Here is an email I sent to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency this morning about the proposed Mount Milligan Gold-Copper Mine Project proposed for a site 155 km northwest of Prince George:

concerns about Mount Milligan proposed mine‏
From: mary mac
Sent: October 30, 2009 9:43:12 AM

I attended the federal government hearing (Dept. Fisheries & Oceans & Environment Canada) last Thursday at the Prince George Civic Centre. I am very concerned about this project proceeding on the basis of the "comprehensive assessment report" conducted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. In addition to (unanswered) concerns I have about the Metal Mining Effluent Regulation more generally (the cumulative increasing extent of damage to watersheds & fish bearing waterways in the country as mining projects increase in number -- and unanswered questions around the extent of & results of any subsequent "environmental effects monitoring" around the efffects on fish & other organisms), I have some concerns about this specific Mt. Milligan proposal which I will outline below.

First, I should note I am a resident of Prince George, British Columbia and have lived in this community for the last 10 years. I grew up in the northern interior of British Columbia in nearby Vanderhoof, a town also in relatively close proximity to the proposed mine.

My specific concerns/ comments with respect to the Dept. of Fisheries & Oceans Comprehensive Assessment Review of this particular project are as follows:

1. A recent feasibility study conducted by Terrane Metals reports the gold in the reserve is 31 per cent more, the copper is 33 per cent more (reported in Vancouver Sun October 14, 2009, Prince George Citizen October 14, 2009 & other news outlets) Representatives of Terrane Metals have admitted (CBC radio interview, other media outlets) that the increase in minerals at that site will require additional digging - a deeper & wider pit, more tailings.

I asked the question about this at the hearing last Thursday - the Terrane Metals representative stated that to accommodate the increased mining, they would be applying to the federal government for an amendment in response to which the Department of Fisheries & Oceans stated there would be no triggering event to require further environmental review or amendment pursuant to the Fisheries Act. This current Comprehensive Assessment Report is considering information submitted by the mining company some years ago and is not considering this more current updated feasibility study report by the mining company.

Therefore, it is my submission that the Department of Fisheries & Oceans' Comprehensive Assessment Report has not even studied the full implications of actual proposed mine nor is there any mechanism for them to do this at a further date unless this further information about a bigger mine is reviewed at this stage of the review process. It has not been done. This omission constitutes a serious inadequacy in the review conducted by Fisheries & Oceans to date.

2. An aspect of the Comprehensive Study Assessment was to look at human components, specifically, current use of land & resources for traditional purposes by Aboriginal persons.Ironically during the course of the hearing, the Nak'adzli people on whose traditional territory the mine would operate were staging a demonstration during the course of the hearing outside the Prince George Civic Centre.

I asked the Dept. of Fisheries & Oceans representative about the extent of their study in this regard and what they had done to address this issue, and the response I received led me to believe that discussions with First Nations are very much a work in progress and absolutely not finalized to the extent that they should be considered completed in a comprehensive assessment report. I do not believe this aspect of the Dept. of Fisheries & Oceans obligations under the comprehensive assessment report is adequate enough for this project to proceed. On the basis of the foregoing, it is my submission that this Comprehensive Study Report is inadequate and the full extent of the proposed mining project has not been sufficiently reviewed to be allowed to proceed.


Mary Mac, Prince George, British Columbia

(the public have until tomorrow to submit comments about this proposed mine to

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

more on (climate change)

here is what the poets have to say about climate change (thanks to Prince George poet Al Rempel for the link:

. , . and here is a video from relating to the most inspiring - for - environment day ever, this past Saturday October 24, 2009.

Many many people around the world really do care about the environment!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Downstream (tar sands documentary)

here is a link to a 30-minute documentary movie well worth a watch:, dark oil tales & Robson autumn harvest gathering

I attended the rally here in Prince George yesterday - we had over 120 people show up, would have had more if the word got out more. It felt great to be part of such an international effort - truly global. I have been going through the pictures on the of the rallies & events held all around the world for Climate Action Day - wow. . . scrolling through the list I checked out even the most obscure unlikely (in my opinion) countries to be participating and they were. . . !

I am also glad to see that Canada had the 2nd largest number of organized rallies, next to the United States. 1000s showed up at the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. It felt really good (& important) to be part of this movement. . .

as for whether it will make a difference in time for Copenhagen. . . well, here is where our federal so-called "Environment" Minister Jim Prentice is at, as published in the Globe & Mail this week (article reproduced in italics - I have further comments further below):

Shawn McCarthy, Ottawa — From Friday's Globe and Mail Published on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009 11:31PM EDT Last updated on Friday, Oct. 23, 2009 7:37AM EDT
Hope is vanishing that a historic deal to address climate change can be concluded in Copenhagen, and Environment Minister Jim Prentice says the best chance is for a political agreement that would pave the way for a treaty to be signed later.
But Canada will continue to insist that it should have a less aggressive target for emission reductions than Europe or Japan because of its faster-growing population and energy-intensive industrial structure, Mr. Prentice said in an interview Thursday.
Canadians must also recognize that any national emissions cap has to reflect differing conditions across the country so as not to punish high-growth provinces, he added. The minister has been consulting with provinces on a plan that would impose a cap on industrial emissions, but allow Alberta's energy-intensive, emissions-heavy oil sands to continue expanding.
“The Canadian approach has to reflect the diversity of the country and the sheer size of the country, and the very different economic characteristics and industrial structure across the country,” he said in a telephone interview.
However, Ottawa will not release its detailed climate-change plan, including its proposed emissions caps on large emitters such as oil sands and power plants, until there is more clarity on how the United States intends to proceed in global climate-change talks in Copenhagen in December, and on what an international treaty would look like, the minister added.
“Copenhagen is a very significant factor in how matters will be approached continentally, and how matters will be approached domestically,” he said.
The Harper government has been criticized for undermining the global talks by insisting on smaller reductions for greenhouse gases than other developed countries, by demanding that emerging economies such as China and India agree to binding caps on their emissions, and by not tabling a plan for meeting Ottawa's own targets.
Mr. Prentice insisted Canada remains committed to reaching an agreement but was not hopeful it could be concluded by December.
“I have to take a realistic view that, given the amount of work that remains to be done, we're running out of time,” he said.
Top United Nations officials are expressing similar pessimism. Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said Thursday it is “unrealistic” to expect a treaty to be negotiated in the weeks before Copenhagen.
In New Delhi, Indian and Chinese environment ministers agreed to a common stand, rejecting binding limits on emissions but pledging to reduce the rate of growth of emissions.
On Wednesday, John Podesta, a prominent Democratic adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama, told an Ottawa audience that it is doubtful a treaty will be signed in Copenhagen, but that there may be an overarching political accord that would pave the way for a treaty.
Mr. Obama is battling to get climate-change legislation through Congress before Copenhagen to strengthen his negotiating hand, but that too appears unlikely. The President plans to travel to China and host India's Prime Minister next month in hopes of finding common ground that would allow the two Asian giants to accept binding limits tied to their need for growth. Without some commitment from the emerging economies, Mr. Obama will have a much tougher job winning passage of the bill now before the Senate.
In Canada, environmentalists and federal opposition parties have slammed the Conservative government for adopting an emission target that falls well short of the country's commitment under the Kyoto Protocol, and far short of what many other developed countries are doing.
Ottawa proposes to reduce emissions by 20 per cent from 2006 levels by 2020. If achieved, Canadian emissions would be 3 per cent below 1990 levels; under Kyoto, Canada committed to cutting its greenhouse gases by 6 per cent from 1990 levels by 2012.
The European Union has said it would reduce emissions by 30 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020, if other developed countries would accept similar reductions. The U.S. climate legislation sets a target of a 17-per-cent reduction from 2005 levels by 2020, but is more aggressive than Canada's in subsequent years.
But Ottawa's chief climate negotiator, Michael Martin, said Canada's economic and population growth over the last 20 years was much stronger than EU growth, meaning Canadians would pay a higher cost to meet the same emissions targets.
The government's 2020 target represents a 26-per-cent reduction from 1990 emission levels on a per-capita basis, after adjusting for population growth.
Mr. Martin addressed a parliamentary committee which is studying a New Democratic Party bill that would commit Canada to reduce emissions by 25 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020, a target that is consistent with both Kyoto and the EU's approach for the next round.
However, the climate ambassador said Canada's targets are “comparable” to more aggressive ones because they will be just as costly to achieve.
Liberal environment critic David McGuinty said the Harper government is avoiding responsibility for addressing climate change, both globally and domestically.
“We're negotiating without a plan” to achieve the reductions Ottawa has already committed to, he said. “They're ragging the puck, killing time and hoping to avoid the issue until after the next election.”

Meanwhile, I am reading on the internet about this oil spill in the Timor Ocean SINCE AUGUST and still spilling! The spill is in a rich coral reef area. According to what I am reading, it is thought that thousands of sea creatures (dolphins, turtles etc etc) have already perished, and the oil is continuing to spill. Question I have: WHY IS THIS NOT A NEWS HEADLINE IN CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES? I happened to watch CNN last night (lasted about 10 minutes, was all I could tolerate) & there, the focus is swine flu etc. This whole swine flu thing in my opinion has been blown way out of proportion by the media - it is not like it is the only danger out there, and I am definitely not convinced that it is imperative to get a swine flu vaccination when one factors in all the other bugs out there (the bugs are winning. . . strengthening one's immune system is where it is at in my opinion!) Why does the media decide to fixate on only certain issues & virtually ignore others that relate to maintaining long term viability of human life (& other life) on this planet?

Our world is currently AN OIL DISASTER! I am becoming increasingly convinced of this, and if we don't turn things around, it can only get worse.

On a more positive note, I enjoyed a lovely harvest dinner at Kakwa Ecovillage in the nearby Robson Valley yesterday. We had delicious food, most of it locally produced, in a chilly post-rain afternoon under the trees. I really enjoyed meeting some of the local people from Dunster & surrounding area. They are thinking of forming a cooperative to share their food / develop a market for local farmers. . . I think this is an excellent & most-needed idea. I would like to see such a cooperative evolve in Prince George. Something to work toward. A couple of the farms take on WWOOFERS - we are thinking we will have a local WWOOFER holiday this coming summer.