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NEWS RELEASE · 3rd March 2011
Residents say “Shell threatens culture, community, livelihood and future”

Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition's
Annual General Meeting
March 10th, 2011 7-9pm
Hazelton, BC
4305 Field Street - SWCC Headquarters
Upstairs in the Misty Rivers Art Gallery

Ads featuring testimonials from residents of the Skeena Watershed in northwest British Columbia were featured at Calgary Transit stations next to Shell Canada headquarters for the months of January and February.

Renown Canadian artist, Roy Henry Vickers; guide outfitter, Carrie Collingwood; Hazelton Mayor, Alice Maitland; and retired rodeo stock contractor, Gene Allen, were the faces and voices for this latest ad campaign in opposition to Shell’s proposal to drill for coalbed methane in northwest British Columbia, in a region known as the Sacred Headwaters.

“Shell is deliberately ignoring the will of the citizens in this region. It's irresponsible behavior for a corporation whose activities are certain to inflict long-lasting and devastating impacts to the headwaters and downstream dependencies of three important rivers in Northern British Columbia,” said Maitland. “This is why the Village of Hazelton, along with all the other cities, towns, Regional Districts, and First Nations Band Councils have signed a resolution calling for a halt to Shell’s activities.”

As a result of the ads, over 2,600 emails from all over the world were sent to Shell, calling on the company to permanently withdraw its plans to develop the region for coalbed methane.

“Shell has said that they are not ready to walk away, and they think ‘people will change their minds’ [about the project],” said Vickers, a member of the Order of Canada and the Order of British Columbia. “Our culture, traditions, and identities are inextricably linked to the land - especially to wild salmon. We are called people of the salmon, and we’ll never support development that threatens our wild salmon.”

Drilling of coalbed methane would require installing thousands wells, connected with roads and pipelines, threatening to turn the pristine area into an industrial checkerboard. Hydraulic fracturing – also known as “fracking” – would be employed, whereby vast quantities of freshwater are combined with sand and undisclosed list of toxic and cancer-causing chemicals would be injected underground to release the methane trapped in coalbeds.

“My family has guided for hunting and fishing in the area for more than 40 years. Our livelihood depends on the health of the fish and animals, “ said Carrie Collingwood, guide with Spatsizi Wilderness Vacations. “Why would we trade the long term economy we have for a risky short-term economy that benefits Shell?”

The ads were sponsored by ForestEthics and Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition and are a part of a series against Shell this spring.

The government of British Columbia imposed a two- to four-year moratorium on Shell’s activities in December 2008 after years of blockades and public protest from northwest residents.