Victoria protest against oil pipeline & tankers

by Raymond Parker on April 19, 2012

in Advocacy, Environment, Events, News, Photography, Politics

“The wisdom of our elders is more valuable than gold.” ~Melana Bazil, Gitxan

Thousands (the mainstream media predictably reported “hundreds”) turned out in Victoria last Sunday to say no to the proposed Enbridge “Northern Gateway” oil pipeline and tanker port at Kitimat.

The rally began at the Legislature, with speeches from First Nations’ leaders and youth.

Bringing home the dilemma of native families, whose lands are impacted by fossil fuel development, Lisa Mercure, from Fort Chipewyan, downstream of the tar sands on the Athabaska River, told the crowd that “half my people are working for the tar sands, and half my people are dying from the tar sands.”

Melana Bazil, a Gitksan woman whose birthplace in the Bulkley Valley sits in the crosshairs of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline plan, made a very personal declaration.

“I am one of many who has been displaced from my culture, land and people, as a result of genocide and divide and conquer tactics. I refuse to be a victim any longer.”

Trying to live in this monetary system, I have ended up being so far removed from myself. Now I am on a healing journey back to my heart, and I stand tall in solidarity for Mother Earth and all her children.”

The rally then marched through the downtown streets to Centennial Square, where workshops and entertainment held a large crowd until late afternoon.

Hundreds of cyclists, with bicycles of every design and description, joined the throng. I talked to cycling families, bicycle commuters, bike couriers and delivery riders—inspiring folks, all dedicated to the vision of lessening reliance on fossil fuels.

I joined a workshop on building activist communities. The small group role-played both sides of the struggle: pro- and anti-development. Becoming my nemesis, I shouted at the “barricade,” “Get a job, hippies!”

This is a dispatch from British Columbia, in the dying days of the Oil Age.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add your spin! }

Conor Ahern April 19, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Remember, Hippies are people too!
Last night I finally got to see “The Pipe” a documentary about natural gas processing on the west coast of Ireland. It would seem that there is one law for the oil company and one for everyone else. It would seem to be a similar situation to the one in Canada, the only ones who want the, so called “Progress” are the oil company and government.

If you can get hold of “The Pipe” it is well worth watching.


Raymond Parker April 19, 2012 at 6:04 pm

Yes, I “liked” The Pipeline’s Facebook page a while back and eagerly await a showing nearby.
Canada, thanks to the present handmaidens of Big Oil posing as a government, is the latest petro-state.
None of this surprises an old hippie.


Conor Ahern April 20, 2012 at 8:16 am

The oil business seems to have gotten a big hold on Canada, now that the price has gone up it is profitable to extract it.

I remember cycling around Canada in 1994 and again in 2004 and noticing the impact of the growth of the oil industry. Some towns were almost deserted, with people going to work on oil rigs. Old men who were well past retirement age were the only ones left to look after farms as the younger ones opted to work for easier money on the oil rigs.

A real shocker was Highway 40 in Alberta. In 1994 it was gravel and I saw very few cars during the few days I spent on it. In 2004 it was fully paved and had constant traffic, day and night, and flare stacks from drilling rigs were everywhere to be seen.

To me the “Good times” caused by the oil industry are akin to the gold rushes of past centuries. It is only a short term thing, and when the oil is gone from area the oil company, along with all it’s money and jobs, is gone and a huge mess is left behind for someone else to clean up.


Raymond Parker April 20, 2012 at 9:07 am

I haven’t been to the Prairies in decades, but your observations coincide with many others. I’ve heard (and seen from satellite photos) areas I once crossed seeing barely a soul are criss-crossed with seismic lines and the kind of oil and gas development you saw.

The controversial anti-oilpatch activist Wiebo Ludwig died earlier this month (April 9). He was convicted in 2000 of bombing a gas well.

Canada, or at least Alberta and their golden boy Harper, have made a pact with the devil. I recommend reading Greg Palast’s Vulture’s Picnic–black humour in full bloom–for a sense of how infernal.

Also follow Alberta writer Andrew Nikiforuk, whose book on Ludwig won the Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction in 2002. His recent book Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent and articles for The Tyee are a must-read for anyone wanting to understand the issue.


lee kenney April 20, 2012 at 7:11 am

There’s no surprise in that Kinder-Morgan pipeline. Come on all you big strong men, Mother Earth needs your help again, Harper’s pumping oil again. And its 1 2, 3 what are we fighting for? { apologies to Country Joe]


Raymond Parker April 20, 2012 at 8:35 am

I think Country Joe, and certainly all fish, would accept your apology. This is definitely shaping up to be a battle.

BTW, I have a vague memory of seeing Country Joe & the Fish way back. They opened for some big headliners (The Mothers?). Of course, we all took part in the famous “Gimme an ‘F’!”, etc. cheer and that’s what the newspapers tut-tutted about the next day.


Tom Hocking April 20, 2012 at 11:43 am

The government may glance down at The People from their balconies, then turn away and get back to the business at hand. After all, it’s just ‘a few hundred hippies, and those Corporate interests are pushing the pipe with all their might.
What we need is a few grannies having a lie down in front of a D-9 Cat at the pointy end of the ‘liners’ parade where the media (and folks w/ vidcams) can see them.


Raymond Parker April 21, 2012 at 10:23 am

A lotta folks are tired of cake. As you can see (though perhaps the government/corporations can’t), that a pretty wide swath of the polity are opposed. I met a few Raging Grannies (from Salt Spring) at the rally.

My guess is that, come to it, there will be some First Nations’ grannies ready to stop the bulldozers.


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