On Sept. 20, much of the western world marched to demand action on climate change.
Fifty-eight years ago, six people – Joe Reuter of Salmon Arm, my parents in Gleneden, Chris Raith in Tappen and Rosemary Gillis and Mike (Mikers) Riley in Kamloops banded together to fight BC Hydro, the provincial Social Credit government, the government of the United States and the Ralph H. Parsons Engineering company of Los Angeles.
Their cause was to prevent first, the damming of the Shuswap river below Mabel Lake so the water could be diverted south to the Okanagan and the U.S., and subsequently the damming of the Clearwater below Wells Gray Park, the Fraser with the Moran Dam, and every major river in B.C. multiple times. It was the opening shot in a war against a program which was designed to bring ‘unused’ Canadian water to the dry American southwest, now in the throws of drought and depleted water resources. All of the dams which now exist were part of that program.
For demonstrations, they had to turn to the IWA for help, because nobody would turn out, yet to this day, those rivers all run free.
Those six people dedicated themselves and their efforts to this cause and they were victorious. While I scattered the ashes of two of them in a mountain valley this summer, and two others are also deceased, they left for all of us an example of what can be done.
Of course, it wasn’t just about writing letters and demonstrating. One of the first things my father did was to recruit Len Marchand to run for parliament. Dad worked to get him elected and before Len went off to Ottawa, looked him in the eye and told him “If you can’t stop the diversion in Ottawa, don’t bother coming back.”
Sometimes politicians have to have things explained to them.
Therefore, let us now dedicate ourselves to continue their work, for while for all of us it can be said:
“But at my back I always hear
Time’s winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.”
We can leave something other than deserts for those who follow us.