Despite a chilling wind off of Stuart Lake, on what was one of the coldest days so far this winter, over 20 people gathered in Spirit Square in Fort St. James on Saturday, Nov. 16.
The rally was a gathering of those opposed to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline, for which the Joint Review Panel has completed hearings, but are still working on their final report and decision on whether or not to recommend approval of the project.
Protestors held signs and walked back and forth across Stuart Drive/Highway 27 with a banner.
Pat Short of Fort St. James said she was there because she was concerned about the implications of a pipeline spill for the water and the difficulty of bringing the pipeline over the mountains.
She believes the focus should be taken off of oil and as a society we should be working on “changing our behaviour for our climate.”
She and her husband are helping their daughter work on getting off the grid entirely.
Some came from Vanderhoof for the event, including Louise Burgener and her husband.
She is opposed to the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline in particular because of Enbridge’s poor track record.
“They have a history of leaks and poor cleanup,” she said. Supertankers off the coast carrying the bitumen is also something she doesn’t like, as she used to live on the coast, especially as it is impossible to eliminate human error.
The new Enbridge advertising campaign has not changed her mind at this point either.
“I know it’s just a bunch of words,” said Burgener. While the JRP are not allowed to consider things outside the review process and she feels they have only limited power anyhow, Burgener said she hopes the politicians will take a hint from the day of protest.
Lisa Spingle, one of the younger protestors at the rally, said she doesn’t think Enbridge is doing anything good for the area and she wants to “protect our environment and our waters.”
“The economic benefit is not worth the ecological risk.”
One of two First Nations protestors at the rally, Winnie Sam said she wanted to come out and support the protest.
She said the gulf oil spill and Kalamazoo River spill make her fearful of what a pipeline spill could mean in B.C..
Climatic disasters like the recent Typhoon Haiyan also raised concern for one protestor who said she was troubled by the increasing natural disasters and climatic disruption taking place yet the lack of political will to address the problem and a constant focus on the economy above all else.
“We just keep turning a blind eye,” said Louis Evans-Salt. “Clean up the mess and carry on.”
The rally was part of a national day of action by the group Defend Our Climate which saw over 130 events take place across Canada. Thousands reportedly gathered at the Vancouver protest.
The national day of action was in protest of the Alberta oil sands and pipelines carrying the bitumen, including proposed ones such as the Enbridge Northern Gateway project which would cross the Stuart River just south of Fort St. James.