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CHAIN OF HOPE FOR NORTHERN GATEWAY PIPELINE

CHAIN OF HOPE FOR NORTHERN GATEWAY PIPELINE

Photo Credit: chainofhope.ca

On June 20, 2014 the women of the Gitga’at First Nation will lead a symbolic blockade against the Northern Gateway pipeline by stretching a crochet “Chain of Hope” across Douglas Channel to show their opposition to oil tankers and oil spills in BC’s coastal waters.

June 17, 2014 BREAKING: Stephen Harper has just announced Canada’s decision to approve the extremely controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. Earlier this month, 300 scientists sent an open letter to Stephen Harper, criticizing what they are calling “flawed science” behind the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel’s final report. The scientists condensed their critique of the Joint Review Panel to five short points:

  1. Failed to adequately articulate the rationale for its findings
  2. Considered only a narrow set of risks but a broad array of benefits, thereby omitting adequate consideration of key issues
  3. Relied on information from the proponent, without external evaluation
  4. Contradicted scientific evidence contained in official government documents
  5. Treated uncertain risks as unimportant risks, and assumed these would be negated by the proponent’s yet-to-be-developed mitigation measures.

There are a slew of other issues with Northern Gateway, including inadequate consultation with First Nations. Despite misleading statements about winning over First Nations, the presdient of Union of B.C. Chiefs—Grand Chief Steward Phillip —has gone on record to say nothing could be further from the truth.

While there has been massive Northern Gateway opposition among First Nations and Canadians alike—who do not want to see pipelines destroy the water ways and communities existing in the proposed area—some people are thinking creatively about how to respond. Gitga’at First Nation has issued this statement, taken (with permission) from their website chainofhope.ca:

On June 20, 2014 the women of the Gitga’at First Nation will lead a symbolic blockade against the Northern Gateway pipeline by stretching a crochet “Chain of Hope” across Douglas Channel to show their opposition to oil tankers and oil spills in BC’s coastal waters.

Made of multicolour yarn and decorated with family keepsakes and mementos including baby pictures and fishing floats with written messages on them, the chain will stretch from Hawkesbury Island to Hartley Bay, a distance of 11,544 feet. The Chain of Hope itself is over 20,382 feet long and was stitched by the women and children of the Gitga’at First Nation with their friends and family across BC and Canada.

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A History of Hope and Courage

The Gitga’at First Nation lives in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest on the North Coast of British Columbia. They are known for their incredible generosity and fearlessness on the water.

In 2006 the Gitga’at rescued passengers from the sinking Queen of the North passenger ferry, feeding them and keeping them warm. They were given a Governor General’s award for their efforts.

This isn’t the first time the Gitga’at have used chains on the water to stop threats against their people. Hundreds of years ago, the Gitga’at strung a chain made of tree branches across a narrow channel. The chain was used to help keep watch at night by alerting the Gitga’at to any intruders passing over the chain.

More recently, in 1977 the Gitga’at joined with other fishermen, the United Church and environmentalists to present a united front on the water against the Kitimat Pipeline Company’s proposal to build a supertanker terminal in Kitimat.

Using a flotilla of fishing boats, the Gitga’at and their allies confronted the MV Princess Patricia, a cruise ship that was partly funded by oil companies to take local politicians on a tour of Douglas Channel.

The confrontation made the television news and was a major embarrassment for government officials and the pipeline company. The terminal was never built.

Update: The Union of British Colombia Indian Chiefs issued a media release following Harper’s approval of Northern Gateway, stating that British Colombia First Nations will be going to court united against Enbridge’s Northern Gateway.

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