Saving the Sacred

March 26th to April 25th
Words By Tamo Campos

 

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For the first time this trip, the bus has been running without “major” problems.
We arrived in Ningunsaw Provincial Park (Just north of Bell II on highway 37 to the Yukon) and scored some of the best turns of the season. 4 straight days of face shots, backside attacks and blisters!

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Our bus wasn’t alone at the parking lot; we toured daily with our new Quebec friends Mick and Katherine. They’re on a one-year sabbatical, living in a VW bus and riding over 70 days this past winter. They’re rad and we definitely had a great time kicking it. They told us about how public pressure created the moratorium on Fracking(extraction method of natural gas) in Quebec until further studies could be done on water use and contamination.

In BC we seem to be moving in the opposite direction with there being a huge push to create a natural gas export industry. This natural gas push seems to be met with open arms even though it would mean exponential growth of frack sites in Fort St. John and Fort Nelson and like Enbridge, would change our economy to one driven by exporting fossil fuels.

 

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We wondered if the reason Enbridge has become so talked about here on the west coast is our ability to imagine what an oil spill would look like in our backyards; yet we receive this natural gas push without the same strong emotions because we can’t really connect to what it is like in Fort Nelson where rivers and lakes are being sucked dry.

A line we keep sticking too is “let’s use Northern Gateway as a gateway to talk about all this other crap!!!”

From Ningunsaw, we sent it up to Telegraph Creek(East of Dease Lake). It’s a breathtaking drive along the Stikine Canyon. Telegraph boomed as an entry point towards the Yukon Gold Rush. It’s now a ghost town filled with empty houses, tool sheds and churches. It gives you shivers thinking about how it would have been buzzing 100 years ago.

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We then headed North towards the Sacred Headwaters. It’s the headwaters of the Stikine, Skeena and Naas, which are three of the largest non-dammed Salmon bearing rivers in North America.

As we split boarded through the snow towards the Spatzizzi plateau and my grandpa’s cabin on Ealue Lake, we passed all sorts of animal tracks– bear, moose and mountain goat, yet as beautiful as this area was we were saddened for what lies ahead for this area.

 

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On our drive up to the Sacred we passed large burn piles that filled entire valleys with smoke. The fires were made up of giant piles of second and old growth trees being burnt to make way for the North West Transmission Line.

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The transmission line was sold to Northern communities and BC taxpayers as a way of getting them off diesel yet this couldn’t be further from the truth. We talked to workers on the transmission line and they told us it’s purely for an onslaught of mines that are proposed in the headwaters and only made possibly by being subsidized by BC Hydro with the help of 1.8 million dollars from BC taxpayers.

 

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One of those projects we saw first hand being prepared was the Red Chris Copper Mine on Todagin Mountain. As we toured across Ealue Lake, the views were breathtaking. We passed wolf tracks, mountain goat turds and grizzly markings on the trees, yet across from this Serengeti of wilderness the sights and sounds of this destructive project are being put in place. The plateau is called Todagin. It is home to the highest population of stone sheep in the world. It’s also where Imperial Metals has planned to put in an open pit copper mine. The project involves creating a tailing pond with over 1.8 million tonnes of toxic waste with no long term clean up plan!!! This is truly the most beautiful place I have been in Canada; to know that we are subsidizing its destruction through these transmission lines is heart breaking!

 

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A local initiative (www.cleanmining.ca) has shown that an underground mining option could be profitable and possible for Mount Todagin. With most of the population in BC living in Vancouver, we need to realize how important it is to elect a government that will put in regulations and restrictions on the type of mining we do in BC.

 

Camping across from Imperial Metals Red Chris Mine.

Camping across from Imperial Metals Red Chris Mine.

On our way out of the Headwaters we learnt of the Thaltan elders blockades, which lasted over a year. It lead to the original moratorium on Fracking in the Sacred Headwaters. This story is remarkable, because at the ages of 60 to 70, they were willing to stand up for the future. We are always fed the line that the younger generation will be the ones who change this world. I am beginning to question that notion. The younger generation can bring the energy and imagination but it’s the older generations that are currently in positions of power to create change.

To hear of how the older generation played such a pivotal role in protecting the Headwaters from Fracking has many lessons for us. It showed us that without all ages getting involved, nothing will change.

 

As we’ve learnt this trip, the solutions are achievable. So like we said before let’s use Enbridge to talk about the roots of this environmental mess and create a plan to make positive changes.

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