“Another world is not only possible,she is on her way.On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing…” ~ Arundhati Roy

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The first time I read Arundhati Roy, it kept me up. She is not only an activist and author, she is a changemaker – a brilliant wordsmith capable of wrapping thoughts and images around you as easily as a mother wraps a blanket around a sleeping childs shoulder at night.

This line above:  “Remember this: We be many and they be few.They need us more than we need them.”resonates so strongly with me that every single time I read it, I get goosebumps on my arms.It’s so incredibly true. Why do so many people feel helpless in the face of so relatively few decision makers? And why do so many people still believe that once you check your little mark in the box in a voting booth, that your job is done… when in fact it is just beginning.They do need us to keep everything going – why else do they pander so much at election time? ‘They’… need you, to stay in power.

There’s so much going on in BC right now that needs more attention,so much that should be running on the evening news- I’ll write more over the weekend.But last night sitting on the couch relaxing with my middle son, we started watching the documentary ” This Changes Everything”.  Like you,I’ve heard so many differing opinions on Naomi Klein and not surprisingly her twitter bio states: “They say I’m polarizing.” She is. But whether you love her or hate her, believe in climate change or not, I think this film is a must watch for the attention it brings to many environmental,social and political issues besides climate change. This film gets conversations started in a big way.

Over the course of 90 minutes, viewers will meet…

Crystal, a young indigenous leader in Tar Sands country, as she fights for access to a restricted military base in search of answers about an environmental disaster in progress.

Mike and Alexis, a Montana goat ranching couple who see their dreams coated in oil from a broken pipeline. They respond by organizing against fossil fuel extraction in their beloved Powder River Basin, and forming a new alliance with the Northern Cheyenne tribe to bring solar power to the nearby reservation.

Melachrini, a housewife in Northern Greece where economic crisis is being used to justify mining and drilling projects that threaten the mountains, seas, and tourism economy. Against the backdrop of Greece in crisis, a powerful social movement rises.

Jyothi, a matriarch in Andhra Pradesh, India who sings sweetly and battles fiercely along with her fellow villagers, fighting a proposed coal-fired power plant that will destroy a life-giving wetland. In the course of this struggle, they help ignite a nationwide movement.

There are scenes that  brought outrage sometimes,empathy in others. There is a scene where Crystal is speaking with a man from the military base I think, asking for access to traditional lands to survey the damage of a spilled pipeline.He’s speaking in manner that clearly shows his disdain and impatience at her presence and then bends over to lean down to her face and says:” Did I confuse you?” in such a condescending tone that tells me he thinks she is a ‘dumb Indian’… it took my breathe in a flash of anger and I could feel my cheeks burning. (And those are her words for his tone,as told to relatives after.)

Rarely have I been spoken to like that,but there was so much more in his tone that I can’t even describe… it wasn’t just misogyny, it was cultural insult. I felt sickened. My son asked why he spoke to her like that and it was impossible for me to quickly convey generations of history between settlers and First Nations in a quick answer- that’s something we’ll be talking more about today as I sit to watch the rest with him later.

I was reminded of Helen Knott, who traveled this week to speak in Toronto about Site C to a group, including Quakers who are opposed to this ridiculous project. Helen whose voice speaks strong and proud of her ancestors who know the land that is already at risk in the Peace valley. There have been hurtful comments made about her and other camp members like Yvonne whose smiling eyes and strength of spirit is bright in everything she writes or speaks. Helen wrote a post a while ago that sprang into my mind while watching Crystal being spoken down to in last nights documentary,one that taught me more than she knows, I suspect.

treaty82Helen, Yvonne and several others including two unnamed defendants- John Doe & Jane Doe and anyone who assisted them – are heading to court next week to fight an injunction BC Hydro has applied for to remove them and the camp at Historic Rocky Mountain Fort. 

With several other court challenges still underway with area First Nations, BC Hydro has been working as fast as they can to get preliminary work done, as Premier Clarks promise to get the dam past the point of no return rings overhead.

BC Hydro is so desperate to move ahead they’ve been quietly been offering thousands of hectares of land to First Nations in the area, in exchange for the Site C dam site which is on Treaty 8 land. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/crown-land-offered-to-first-nations-in-return-for-site-c-dam-site/article28807209/

This area is one of what Klein refers to as a ‘sacrifice zone’. When government and industry decide they want an area of land for whatever project is at hand, everything in that area is sacrificed- including the people who call that land home. No longer will they be able to hunt on that land or forage for food and medicinal needs. Fishing in the dam would be risky business: a health risk – fisheries were ruined by the WAC Bennett dam,thanks to the decaying matter in the reservoir that releases mercury and contaminates fish. 

Of course compensation is offered – payments here and there, some nice things for local cities,contributions to social agencies that are hard to turn down. Fort St. Johns mayor Lori Ackerman has been in the press recently for having strongly negotiated a plum deal for the city in exchange for community compliance. But one has to ask how hard that negotiation was for her, when she has already announced that she intends to run for the same BC Liberals forcing this project through, in the 2017 election?

Hudsons Hope mayor hasn’t completed an agreement yet and has been speaking honestly and openly about the impacts prior dams have had on their community.  Because when the projects are done,the compensation used up, what’s left is irreversible. Only now years later is Hydro and the government suddenly concerned about compensating for what was lost forever years ago, let alone what stands to be lost now.

Both the provincial and federal government have run roughshod over process and treaty rights when it comes to Site C and continue to do so. The new governing party of federal Liberals has yet to respond to repeated requests to reveal the reason for approving the Environmental assessment certificate that the Harper cabinet kept secret and today we learn 14 permits were issued during the federal election writ period. http://www.desmog.ca/2016/02/19/site-c-dam-permits-were-quietly-issued-during-federal-election

This, is at the heart of the message I personally took from Kleins film last night.

Watching the massive protests in India that stopped industry in its tracks,the words of a middle aged Indian woman were stark.She said that they ( her and other women & men) realized when they were getting beaten by law enforcement officials, that this was it: they must continue to stand up against this, at that very moment – or die trying. For them in that area of India, there was no other choice because no one was listening and government gave more rights to private investors than they gave the people who made their lives off the land. And it should never, ever come to this. Any where!

We are doing things wrong here in BC. We do need jobs, good paying ones that will support families,but we do not have to be victims of insincere public consultations that have become meaningless shows in many cases, just so government can say they fulfilled their obligation to consult.Walking into someones community, their lives and saying “This is what we are going to do here, but don’t worry we’ll compensate you.” is not how things should be done. We can and should do better than this. Just because it’s been done this way for so long, doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t change that.

Communities must have priority voices and choices in the way they want to move forward, grow business and protect environment. The inherent value of the land is often far more than a price can be attached to.Its cultural and historical significance can be priceless and its a place for generations yet to be born – it’s tremendously shortsighted to think otherwise. As Crystal states in the film,it’s not just a First Nations issue – if you drink the water or breathe the air, or eat the food that grows and is raised on the land, it’s your issue too.

 If you don’t stand up for others when the chips are down, who’s going to stand up for you when it’s your neighbourhood in the sacrifice zone? 

And Site C, the project that I don’t just believe is wrong, I know it’s wrong. 12,000 years of human history gone, farmland, First Nations treaty lands and an economic nightmare that will weigh on my childrens children.For what? There is no longer a reason to build this dam

It’s as much about learning from our past, as it is, taking care of the basics. I don’t like the words, shoulda, woulda, coulda….Sometimes you have to take a break, look at what you know and where you have been, so you can figure out the best way forward, for everyone.

Because although I believe it is never too late to change course and head in the right direction, it’s equally true that sometimes you only get one opportunity to really get it right. 

And do you really want to take that chance?

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.”~ Theodore Roosevelt

ask questions

 

15 thoughts on ““Another world is not only possible,she is on her way.On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing…” ~ Arundhati Roy

  1. Bernadette Keenan

    I too believe we are slowly moving in the right direction. Every little bit helps. When they built the Wacky Bennet Dam it seems to me no one was asking these hard questions. Much was lost then due to it being a similar project to Site C Dam. Now it seems there is more resistance and harder questions being asked.
    Shame on the government for trying to take it “past the point of no return” when obviously it is opposed by so many.
    Do love all the wonderful, inspiring quotes accompanying this post.

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    1. nonconfidencevote

      They had the developement plans on the “back burner” waiting for a reason to build…..LNG prices “popped” up and they moved ahead.
      This project will be a fiscal, legal and environmental disaster for decades.
      Unfortunately, Christy Clark will be long gone from office, sipping lattes in a corporate “job for life” with one of her major benefactors.
      Time to make politicians personally and financially liable for the questionable, possibly corrupt multi billion dollar decisions they make?

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      1. JasonS

        Yes when they make decisions that adversely affect the interests of the province of BC and the citizens that live and support this “society” we built they should have to defend their actions in court under oath not kangaroo court of public opinion and crony laden investigations . Also every former politician collecting a public pension should be forced to show every penny they receive before and while they are on a public pension.

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      2. I agree that some kind of accountability has to stick to them. Like crazy glue. Admittedly, decisions made in good faith and in the perceived best interests of the public should not, if they turn out to be wrong, be hung around a politicians neck like an albatross. There has to be some exemption for that ‘honest error’. But any politician who later derives any significant benefits from a decision they played a role in should incur HUGE penalties and I, personally, would include a ten year (or longer) built-in audit trail to ensure that. Still, what about the dipstick, no-nothing lawyer who gets elected as a young person and, after 16 years in government, gets hired as a partner in a large firm? Clearly that is some kind of influence peddling, potential or otherwise, previous or future. But how do you stop a person from practicing their profession?

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  2. It flies in the face of conventional wisdom to question the phrase, ‘we need good-paying jobs to raise our families’, but I think that is part of the problem. We drank deeply the Kool-Aid.
    We do need to work together to make things better. I agree with that. But the emphasis in the common phrase is usually NOT on the effort, the commitment and the energy used to build and progress, it is on the ‘good-paying’ part. In money, we have placed our trust. And it is that part that encourages men and women to do the wrong thing because they do it for the money. “Gotta make a buck!” Now, like prostitutes, they work from desperation and the never-ending want for money. They don’t build to make better, they build to make money. Start with the facts: making money is a recipe that works only for the 1%, not the rest of us. The rest of us are enslaved by it. Rethink that phrase. Replace it with ‘do the right thing!’

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  3. Last night on Global TV I was filled with horror at the news of the BC Hydro job fair in Fort St. John. Although there was no reference to where this huge line-up of people came from, it’s a pretty safe bet that very few of them were British Columbians, and isn’t that what Cjristy keeps blabbing about? Jobs, jobs, jobs, for British Columbians.

    It’s not that I have no sympathy for the unemployed Alberta oil patch workers, it’s the fact that there are as many or more jobs available in the renewable energy sector than in fossil fuel extraction. (I think Naomi Klein mentioned that in her book). Yet our ditzy Premier refuses to accept this important fact.

    How much would it cost to provide incentives, or more importantly, work with First Nations and industry on solar, wind, and geothermal projects? One particular $1 billion project on Vancouver Island comes to mind, a project that was basically scuttled by a neanderthal government.

    When I watched that documentary on CBC I realized an alarming truth……that we will have to stand up to those BC Hydro/BC Liberal bullies, whatever the cost. I can only hope that will not cost lives, as the protests in India did.

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    1. Hawgwash

      Gini;
      “It’s not that I have no sympathy for the unemployed Alberta oil patch workers…”
      Sympathy is ok but we need to go back one more step. Those now out of work Alberta oil patch workers were not Albertans either. They came from somewhere else to the oil patch and who knows perhaps somewhere else before that. Manufacturing in Ontario, maybe?

      My point is they are all TFWs or more succinctly; migrants. That is just too convenient now, isn’t it?

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  4. Job fairs? Orwellian-speak for begging-to-work. What a system. Gini is 100% right – way more jobs in alternative energy. Way more everything when you get away from the system-that-does-not-serve-you.

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  5. This area is one of what Klein refers to as a ‘sacrifice zone’. When government and industry decide they want an area of land for whatever project is at hand, everything in that area is sacrificed- including the people who call that land home.

    Thanks Laila, we have seen this before, the people of the upper reaches of the Peace, the Findlay, the Parsnip, and the people of the Columbia, and many other rivers. We saw enough of that kind of politics and we got a new process. One that gives politicians the information they need to make good decisions, one that means that corruption, the old boy network, and plain greed do not run the Province into destruction.

    We still have that process, it is better than what we are doing now, and we have to use it again for Site C. Sacrificial lambs are harder to come by these days because of those days and because the people who are interested can get better answers than all of this Governments due diligence.

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  6. Mosko

    The major problem, in fighting big government, and big business, when they want something, is the majrity of people have more to lose, in the immediate term, than gain.

    Losing a job today driving a truck or running an excavator doesn’t mean much if the only promise is MAYBE, a job some time in the future in tourism, or green energy.

    People in dying professions never see their job disappearing until it happens. The majority of oil patch workers only know what they’ve been doing, and want to continue. It’s not their fault Alberta and most governments keep telling them they should just keep jumping from location to loction to find work.

    Simple fact is, we have to run and elect better politicians, but when people like Christy Clark can bamboozle so many people so easily with LNG hype, promises of prosperity funds and a big smile, I fear there really isn’t much hope. When one politician piled up so much debt in just 3 years, yet campaigned and WON on a “debt-free BC” slogan, how do you fight such gullibility in the average voter?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How do we fight it? By calling and e-mailing our opposition MLAs and telling them we want more action from them this time around. They had plenty of ammunition in 2013 and they didn’t use any of it.

      I’ve been watching Question Period during this session and the NDP needs to do better there too. Instead of spending a whole 1/2 hour arguing about water quality in schools, they need to hit Christy’s cabal with everything they’ve got, and there’s no shortage of topics.

      If you get a chance, go to Andrew Weaver’s website and read his critique of the budget speech. Too bad he’s only allowed one question every couple of weeks in QP.

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  7. Marie Clark

    Why is it that when we hire politicians we can’t fire them. Why did this mega project not go to a referendum in the first place since we will be paying for it. Why are we forced to buy something that is so devastating, so expensive and unnecessary. I can’t believe the government has the nerve to take people to court who oppose this giant white elephant.
    WE need to all rise up and protest because with bigger numbers they won’t have room for all of us in jail. We need to scream loud and clear about this one. Christy Clark needs hearing aids cause she doesn’t seem to be listening.

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  8. Donald Trump made the people listen by being entertaining. He’s a nasty, bigoted clown but fun to watch…like cars blowing up in cheap B action flicks. Same for Sarah Palin. Even Just-in brought enough of that to win. We live generally comfortable lives and our so called leaders are not SURVIVAL leaders like Churchill. They are entertainers. So…..you want the people’s attention? Talk like Trump. Look like Palin. And blow up a few cars. You’re in!
    Seriously? The only people I know who study and think politics at even this level are here on LY’s column and a few others. Not enough to fill Nat Bailey Stadium. Serious talk, serious thinking, even political revelations mean nothing to Canucks fans – and they are the voters. Sorry, Mosko, we all picked the wrong hobby.

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