Saturday, April 13, 2013

art "speak" on pipelines

Currently underway in Prince George BC, two art shows depicting artists' perspectives on pipelines, with a specific focus on the Enbridge Northern Gateway oil pipeline proposed to cross this part of northern BC, the condensate bitumen tar sands oil destined for massive oil tanker ships that would enter the tight fjiords and inlets in and around Kitimat BC. 

The thought of this big oil-backed project breaks the hearts of most people I know who reside in northern BC and knowing that the current Canadian ("Harper") government backs this project all the way, even to the extent of rewriting our federal environmental and review process laws in order to facilitate this project going ahead, devastates many of us, shaking our confidence in what we understood as Canadian democracy. 

To live on this land and by its flowing waters is to love it from the core of our beings.  Currently many of us feel under direct attack by outsiders led in large part by big oil companies operating in and around the devastating Alberta tar sands, and, the "Harper government."  Federal documents gained under a freedom of information request reveal that the recommendations of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers were closely reflected in this government's most recent omnibus budget bill which removed many environmental protections and did away with many administrative fairness review processes.  Once upon a time, I believed these protections were sacred in our country, the administrative fairness reviews protected in our very Constitution.

In the past couple of days, the media has reported that the 3-person National Energy Board Review Panel (none of the 3 members from British Columbia) has released a number of conditions that Enbridge would need to abide by should the project be given the green light to go ahead.  It should be noted that over 99 per cent of public participants in this process said NO to the project and many of the First Nations groups chose to boycott the process entirely as it did not constitute adequate consultation with them.  The Joint Review Panel claims they are not saying yes yet to the process, merely stating the conditions that Enbridge would be expected to abide by should the project be approved.

WHY would you go to all the trouble of constructing a list of conditions if you do not intend to approve it?  It seems, this would be just what a project proponent would want.... a review process which on the surface looks as though due process is being served, but if you scratch the surface even a little, you can find serious defects with the fairness of the process and the lack of impartiality at so many levels.

And meanwhile, the poets and artists are stepping forward, showcasing their sentiments in the most powerful way they can:  their art.    The Two Rivers Art Gallery in Prince George is currently hosting a show, Pipeline: A Line of Division, many of the beautifully executed pieces rendering depths of despair and profound concern about this particular project and the broader theme of how Mother Earth is being treated these days in the pursuit of money. 

Also, currently at Artspace above our beloved Books and Company bookstore on 3rd Avenue is a show entitled Pipe Up.  

I am proud to say my 8 year old son is displaying his art work in this show; it is the first exhibit he's ever participated in.  His work is simply entitled, "Before and After the Pipeline."

Other exhibited art includes the following:

"Crossing our Borders," by Pat Gauthier ($750) - Pat is a rancher whose land borders on the Necoslie River, Stuart River and Pitka Creek, three waterways that would be crossed by the Enbridge pipeline - the piece speaks to the devastating impact the pipeline would have on the ranch, particularly if there were ever a spill.

"The forgotten promise," a series of three paintings by Laura Chandler ($600)

"Protest Posters" by David Voss and "The Pipeline People" by Rob Ziegler

These are only some of the powerful works showing people's responses to and emotions around pipelines that outsiders seek to put through this area.... the Artspace Pipe Up show runs until the end of April. 
How are these artists' voices heard? 

And I cannot help but wonder, do the National Energy Board, Enbridge and the Harper government even know anything about these artists' expressions of concern? 

And if so, does it matter at all?

1 comment:

  1. Those are lovely. I will have to go and have a look in person. I was sorry to miss the opening. Congratulations to your son on his first exhibit.

    As far as your last two questions, I doubt it, and if so, no.

    The line we are still hearing is that the federal and Alberta governments and the oil companies think they just need to do a better job of "selling" this and other hydrocarbon projects. I don't need any job of selling and neither do you. There is nothing that can change our minds. But I am convinced that they have not actually heard a word that was said at the JRP, because we ALL said that.