Canada

Letters to The Vancouver Sun, Feb. 22, 2020: Where is Coastal GasLink planning to lay the pipeline ?

Concerning the Wet’suwet’en protests, there is one angle to this story that is just as disturbing and has yet to be addressed, namely where exactly is Coastal GasLink actually planning to lay this pipeline through Wet’suwet’en territory? Well, checking out the dismal maps provided by the company online, it would appear that the protest camps are set up right there on the banks of the Morice River. This proposed route then is most likely to follow very closely to where the Northern Gateway line was being laid out back in 2006.

As it happens, I was working with an archaeological consultant company that summer involved with surveying Northern Gateway’s proposed route, which was also to run all the way from the Alberta border through to Kitimat. When we finally made it to just south of Houston (where we hired on some local Wet’suwet’en members to work with and guide us) it was most disturbing to discover that the proposed pipeline was to follow the banks of the Morice River.

Well, no surprise, since oil and gas pipelines always plan on taking the easiest and cheapest routes possible, which in this instance was down in the valley along the river. So, if there was ever a blowout or a leak in the line, raw natural gas would be carried down the Morice into the Babine River and then into the Skeena — a river that provides some of the most productive spawning grounds for salmon on our coast.

Rick James, Royston

As a non-Indigenous person watching the current jurisdictional dispute between traditional Wet’suwet’en land defenders and the aligned forces of globalized corporations and our provincial and federal governments, I have to acknowledge that this is not my fight. That said, I have chosen sides.

I have a point of view about health that stems from exploration on a personal level and as a physician who has worked in general practice and as a medical health officer in resource extraction settings in Northern B.C. and the Yukon over the course of a lifetime.

To try to put it in a nutshell: Health is generated in communities that are stable, and where people of all ages have a sense of belonging and agency, and where the physical environment, be it air, water or land, is clean and healthy rather than polluted.

At the heart of the Wet’suwet’en occupation of their land there is a Healing Centre that expresses a vision of health that runs counter to the prevailing notions of industrial health care whereby land destruction is converted into money to buy “services” like treatment centres for addictions and depression, hospitals for chronic diseases caused by sugar and stress, and where case-by-case treatments and pharmaceutical symptom suppression cost more than even an aggressive corporate agenda can hope to generate.

The wisdom here is that the land itself is understood as inherently healing; both physically and as a source of community and culture. This is something we all know but have collectively forgotten in our blind adherence to economic dogma and the need to have a “healthy economy”. It’s why we go on vacations to try to heal a bit in the most unspoiled places we can afford.

I stand with Wet’suwet’en because all of the evidence, along with my heart, knows that their vision for healing and health based on respect and reverence for the land offers hope to a world that desperately needs it. To see militarized police deployed to suppress and extinguish that vision is heartbreaking. In my view, it’s a symptom of just how completely we have lost sight of our common humanity and our own fundamental need for health and healing, especially now, when our survival as a species is hanging in the balance.

David Bowering, Hazelton 

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