province over the past decade.
The rapid industrialization of the
north—fracking, liquefied natural gas
projects, pipelines, Site C dam construction—represents a way of thinking about development and resources
that disconnects us from the earth,
and from each other. The Site C dam
construction is the biggest single project happening in British Columbia.
Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities are being divided by government and industry, and the people of
British Columbia are mostly silent. We
think this must change.
These are not local issues. If Site C
proceeds, for instance, the financial
burden it will place on BC Hydro will
be shared by everyone in the province.
The people are like a sleeping giant.
Once awakened the giant will rise up
and use its strength and clear vision
to build a new kind of economy—one
with the environment, First Nations,
and human rights at its core.
“Hearts break when children are
abused, and my heart feels the same
Poverty, climate change, refu- gees, gender inequity, pollution, racism, disease. Do you ever
feel that if people would wake up we
wouldn’t be in the mess we are in?
What would it take to alert people
to some of the pressing issues in our
home territories? How do we become
engaged and care?
Last August, BC-Yukon KAIROS
organized an eight-day Rolling Justice
Bus Tour of British Columbia following river watersheds and meeting with
First Nations, church people, and others
concerned about issues in their communities. The goal was to connect the dots
between urban and rural realities.
An earlier event was held in July to
coincide with the 11th annual Paddle
for the Peace River. Forty-six people
were on the bus, ranging in age from
12 to 88 years.
We called this trip the Awaken the
Giant tour because we think that many
people in British Columbia haven’t
been paying attention to what’s been
happening in the northern part of the
way about the land and this river
(Peace River),” says Terry Dance-
Bennink, a participant from Esquimalt
United Church, Victoria. “It’s the same
way I felt after seeing the polluted
Athabasca River and devastation of the
land in northern Alberta three years
ago. Our land and water are sacred,
and when they are defiled, we must
stand up and speak. Land is at the core
of First Nations culture and existence.”
Dance-Bennink quotes Lana Garbitt
of Saulteau Treaty 8 First Nations:
“When we lose our land base, we lose
who we are as a people.”
Dance-Bennink is beginning
to understand those words. “As a
Christian, I believe I have a moral
imperative to stand up for justice for
the land, the river, and First Nations.”
What is clear to us is that the
energy solutions of the past are not
what our children and grandchildren
will need for a truly sustainable
future; a future based on respect for
the web of life and healthy relation-
ships. It’s up to all of us to get our
paddles in, and change course.
Join us on next year’s tour.
—Janet Gray of First Metropolitan
United Church was one of the organizers of the Rolling Justice Bus.
Awakening the Giant Tour
Paddlers emerge from the Peace River after
the Paddle for the Peace River event in northeastern British Columbia, Treaty 8 territory.