Community members rallied in Spirit Square, braving freezing temperatures as part of a province-wide day of action.
The “Defend Our Coast” day of action was taking place across British Columbia, and the Fort St. James event was one of 68 registered actions taking place to show opposition for tar sands pipelines and tankers on the B.C. coast.
Around 40 people attended the lunchtime event in downtown Fort St. James, some holding signs, some speaking out and a few putting up 25 metres of black ribbon as a symbolic “wall of opposition” to the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline which would cross the Stuart and Necoslie Rivers.
“We can’t risk our rivers and our salmon,” said Rosemarie Sam, a band councillor for Nak’azdli. She said the reliance of the Nak’azdli and other area First Nations on the salmon for food means they can not afford any risk to the resource.
Peter Erickson, known also by his hereditary name as Tsoh Dih, stressed the importance of protecting what he called “the last unspoiled territory in Canada.”
“British Columbia is the last threshold,” he said. “It’s really important that we take a stand.”
“It’s time to warrior-up,” he said.
Organizer Kyla Pollard spoke briefly about the province-wide action taking place and thanked the community members who have spent so much time and effort researching the pipeline proposal to act as intervenors for the Fort St. James Sustainability Group, which Pollard is a member of.
Members of the group traveled to Prince Georg to participate in the final hearings and will be questioning Enbridge in front of the joint review panel starting Oct. 29.
“I feel proud to be part of this unity and solidarity,” said Pollard at the rally.
Also at the rally was Sussanne Skidmore Hewlett, who is seeking the nomination to be the NDP candidate for Nechako-Lakes.
Hewlett spoke briefly about her opposition to the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and its lack of benefit to northern communities.