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Saying no to the proposed Gateway pipeline is unselfish [guest column]
The proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline’s environmental damage risks far outweigh the economic benefits for British Columbians.
Enbridge is an international company. It has offices in Canada, United States, Spain, Columbia, and Venezuela. In Canada, Enbridge is proposing to build a pipeline from the Alberta tar sands to the shipping port in Kitimaat, B.C.. This proposal has divided people in B.C.
From Alberta, crude oil will be shipped through pipelines crossing many traditional First Nations territories, and hundreds of important fish-bearing rivers and streams while on its way to the shipping port of Kitimaat.
When the crude oil arrives in Kitimaat, it will be loaded onto supertankers and shipped across the ocean to China. This can potentially be a very dangerous environmental risk.
The risks far outweigh the economic benefits for British Columbians. Enbridge claims 3,000 jobs for British Columbians will be created during the process of the construction phase. Three thousand is not a huge number. There are 5,000 people living in the small town of Smithers, BC. Three thousand jobs do very little benefit for British Columbians.
†In the long term, Enbridge claims 560 jobs will be created. These jobs will only be at the Tar Sands in Alberta and at the shipping port in Kitimat. This is not worth the huge environmental risks.
Building this pipeline will cost a lot of money. The pipeline will cost more than any infrastructure project for the energy industry and claims to be an important bridge between Aboriginals and industry for long term benefit.
Enbridge wants to ensure maximum participation for Aboriginal communities in economic opportunities, equity, ownership, directed procurement and employment.
They have also developed a package of environmental and economic commitments for the communities along the route, including coastal communities.
They are very determined to find solutions for the concerns of Aboriginal groups. They have offered Aboriginal people a 10 per cent share net income over the next 30 years. This will be approximately $280 million shared between all communities.
Enbridge also states that Aboriginal ownership would help achieve priorities such as health care, education and housing. Still, I am against the Northern Gateway and I don’t think that the pipeline will have many benefits. It is still too big of a risk.
On the Web site pipeupagainstenbridge.ca, the author states that the pipeline will cross 1,000 rivers and streams. I contacted the NDP party which believes the risks far outweigh the benefits of the proposed pipeline, and they do not recommend that it should proceed.
The wild salmon in our area is not just a nourishment physically; it’s a nourishment culturally. Salmon is a huge part of not only Gitxsan culture, but a lot of First Nations cultures in the northwest.
In the Gitxsan nation, salmon is a big part of our culture. In the summer time we harvest our salmon and the salmon connects us to each other. We get together; Elders, adults and the younger generation. We learn a lot from this. We learn how to properly cut and gut the salmon, and how to preserve it. It reinforces the lineage and the connection to our land.
During this time, the Elders start sharing the stories of our culture and they also speak our language around us. We, as I am speaking of the younger generation, get our knowledge through the salmon. If the salmon dies out, our learning of our own culture dies out too.
Refusing this pipeline is not selfish, believe the NDP, and that we’ve been very generous about the way we’ve participated in the global economy in forestry and mining. Northwestern B.C. is a fish nation; anyone connected with the land base knows that.
When we look at projects before us, the experts in the oil industry say if you move oil, you spill oil; whether it’s through a pipeline rupture or a super tanker accident. This will have catastrophic results on wild salmon. We don’t want the existence of healthy salmon populations to be a story of the past like the modern-day buffalo story of the Plains.
It’s not just the First Nations people that depend on salmon for food. Salmon also connects a lot of non-First Nations people too; fishing reinforces relationships.
Salmon also keeps our ecosystem healthy and stable. It creates a diverse ecosystem providing food for the bears and many other animals in our ecosystem. Without salmon, our ecosystem would go wacky and be unhealthy, and unstable.
The Gitxsan nation is taking a stand and saying no to Enbridge. The Gitxsan would rather protect the land and traditional ways over the money.
If anyone really respects the environment, we wouldn’t let this pipeline go ahead. Some of the species we have are irreplaceable. The land we have is what we should cherish. Northern British Columbia is beautiful, and we should keep it beautiful.
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