A Resounding Voice

Almost two years ago now, I travelled to Old Massett Village on Haida Gwaii to observe hearings held by the Joint Review Panel for Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway Project, which would bring over 525,000 barrels/day of diluted bitumen through the extraordinary Great Bear region of British Columbia.

Low tide reveals sea stars (Asteroidea sp) in a marine landscape in  Burnaby Narrows, Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), British Columbia, Canada. © National Geographic Stock /Raymond Gehman / WWF-Canada
Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, Haida Gwaii. Last week, the Haida Gwaii-based journal Haida Laas published a 72-page summary of stories–all in support of protecting the Great Bear Sea. © National Geographic Stock /Raymond Gehman / WWF-Canada

For two solid days, the three-member panel listened to speaker after speaker as each shared his or her knowledge, concerns, and views on the impacts of the proposed project. Some spoke of their how their livelihoods would be affected by an oil spill, some spoke of the fundamental cultural connection to a healthy marine environment, some spoke against the short-sighted economics and irresponsibility of making the world more dependent on fossil fuels. In all, nearly 200 people shared their stories over those two days.
Not one was in favour of the project.
Last week, the Haida Gwaii-based journal, Haida Laas, published a 72-page summary of the stories shared at these hearings. Aptly entitled A Resounding Voice, it offers a message of solidarity, responsibility for the future, and common sense. It’s also an informative and compelling read.  You can read the full summary here.
It comes at a good time, too, as the Joint Review Panel is due to release its report on the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Project any day now.  The announcement will take place in Calgary, far from BC’s coast, far from the Great Bear region and far from those who have the most at stake.  Will the JRP’s assessment do justice to the stories, knowledge, and values of the people of Haida Gwaii? We’ll see. As 2013 wraps up, I’m sure of one thing: the resounding voice in opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline, and in favour of a spectacular natural wealth of the Great Bear Sea, will continue to be joined by tens of thousands more.