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REPORTING · 24th July 2012
Walter McFarlane
About 50 to 75 people came out to welcome the Kootenay Convoy to Kitimat on Tuesday, July 24th. There was a lot of time for discussion of the pipeline. There were also several speakers including MLA Robin Austin.

“We did some informational events in Nelson about the Enbridge Pipeline, we knew about it, we were concerned about it and people said we should go and take a message of support on the pipeline route,” said Keith Wiley

They stopped at 14 locations along the way and met with hundreds of British Columbians who were opposed to the pipeline.

“We have learned how committed, so many of the people on the pipeline route are to stopping this pipeline. There are so many people who have made it a personal priority to stop this pipeline,” said Wiley.

He stated they are going to succeed because they are committed. They also learned the importance of meeting face to face and talking with people.

Wiley expressed they have met with First Nation’s leaders and they have stated the mixing of Alberta Bitumen and BC water is cultural genocide.

“Our waters and our lands are the future of our children and grandchildren and we can not sacrifice them for large industrial projects and promises of jobs… vacant promises of jobs and billions of dollars of oil company profits. We will not go that way any more,” said Wiley.

He added we need a new way forward, wean our communities off fossil fuels.

Also present was MLA Robin Austin who got up to say a few words. He said the Enbridge debate was heating up. The BC Liberals are not off the fence but they are gradually presenting their concerns. A technical report was released from the Ministry of the Environment which was compiled by civil servants researching the project for the BC Government. Austin stated the report advised the BC Government to say no to Enbridge.

Austin concluded by saying NDP Leader Adrian Dix was going to be in Kitimat this week and he is going down the Douglas Channel along the route of the pipeline to Bella Bella to see the Coast of BC. Austin hoped Christy Clark and Stephen Harper would do the same journey.

“If they see the beauty and the complexity of our coastline, they will understand this is not about cleaning up oil off the beaches like it was in the Gulf of Mexico. This is a Coastline which is Pristine, it is an eco system that we all value and we all want to keep for our children and our grandchildren,” said Austin.

Art Sterritt was also present to speak. He talked about the original pipeline to import oil many years ago. At the time, people from along the route came out to fight the proposal. It ended around the time when the Exxon Valdez ran aground.

He stated the First Nations have the ability to use their rights as a club to stop development, or as a feather to prevent bad development and encourage sustainable development. The Coastal First Nations have announced a ban on Tanker Traffic in the Great Bear Rainforest.

He questioned why Canadians would support a project which would take the energy security away from the Country. “Why would we be looking to provide energy security to other countries around the world when we don’t have a national energy plan?” Sterritt asked.

Sterritt said BC is a ‘have’ province with a sustainable forest industry, fishery industry and many other things which they are doing. The Enbridge project is bringing First Nations together with their neighbours.

“We are not going to let the legacy of oil to taint the future of my grandchildren, your grandchildren or even Enbridge’s grandchildren.

The next step is to go home, cut movies and make some radio shows and let the Kootenay’s know about the people they have talked to. They are also going to entertain people from the North in the Kootenays.

Douglas Channel Watch was presented with a proclamation of support signed by 500 people from the Kootenays. A message from Kootenay to Kitimat supporting the right of the people of Kitimat to refuse the pipeline access to our land and waters.

Read about their visit to the Hazeltons here