Thursday, 18 September 2014

David & Goliath in the Coastal Waters of BC

By Jessica Numminen, 1st year MDP student

coastal waters and fish
Over your lifetime there are moments that are eternally etched in your mind, a moment where time slows down and a part of you is fixated on what is unfolding in real time while another part is looking back at you. Wondering is this for real, checking your surroundings, a span of time eternally etched in my mind. I will never forget that day and there are only a few of these days in my 32 years of existence. 

Princess of Wales's car accident, 9-11 and watching the towers coming town, the birth of my daughter… cooking in the kitchen, sun shining and looking from the kitchen window…when the announcement came over the hand held radio used in every home in Hartley Bay... the green light had been given for Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Development…. Silence….Time stood still....A second announcement followed, in light of this development the Band office and fuelling station will close for the remainder of the day.  Silence, the feeling of a death, loss, mourning. 

My friend and I, were for the next few hours, in a haze of emotion and tears that I cannot not say, I have ever experienced…I do not understand why this could happen. I cannot imagine hundreds of tankers passing by Hartley Bay...An even more pressing burden on the Gitga’at because life as it exists for them is now at stake. I bear witness to the personal sense of loss experienced by the Gitga’at at this announcement but most Canadians just saw a news clip with respect to this Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Development, not knowing or seeing the community living at ground zero, from Alberta to the Coast and waterways of the Gitga’at. What would the animals, plants and other beings have to say or tell us? Unlike humans they only take what they need to survive.

Floaters with messages
The Chain of Hope
 The blow of Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Development was followed by another lifetime event that same day the preparation for the Chain of Hope had been underway before my arrival in Hartley Bay. All the women and children in the community crochet rope out of yarn. The first meeting I had attending all the rope had been collecting. The next meeting I attended was the same evening of the pipeline announcement. The energy in the room was of hope and everyone was busy at work from counting the rope, joining each individual piece and rolling it on a huge spindle which became the Chain of Hope. It's total length was over 20,000 ft. Others decorated messages on floaters that would be attached to the rope.  I will never forget this day because of the beauty and resilience of the Gitga’at people, the Guardians of their territory, and of hope for a different future where development is done differently. The Chain of Hope was placed across the Douglas Channel on June 20th, 2014 a symbolic blockade to show the opposition of oil tankers and oil spill in coastal water of British Colombia.

With gratitude I would like to say a big thank you to the community of Hartley Bay for allowing me this opportunity and for making me feel at home.

For more information on the Chain of Hope click on this link

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