I’ve just had the pleasure and honour of working with some great people — event organizers, speakers, performers, and legions of wonderful helpers — on a fundraiser for some other great people: the Salt Spring Nine.
The Nine, along with several hundred other British Columbians, were arrested in March on Burnaby Mountain. That’s where the tank farm is, where petroleum products which have come by pipeline from Alberta are stored before shipment to the U.S. or transportation by truck to sites in B.C.
Yes, I mean the Trans Mountain pipeline, once owned by the Kinder Morgan corporation, now apparently owned by Justin Trudeau. (Oh wait, those owners now would be us . . . .)
Meet Salt Spring’s Nine: Brenda Guiled, Briony Penn, Jan Slakov, Jean Wilkinson, Marcelle Roy, Murray Reiss, Myna Lee Johnstone, Ron Ada and Tom Mitchell. Hats off to them! Throw those hats in the air!
The Stand Up Salt Spring fundraiser at Fulford Hall was standing room only. We heard from MP Elizabeth May who shared not only her experience of being arrested (along with NDP MP Kennedy Stewart), but also her insights as a lawyer on some of the cases against the pipeline that are before the courts. There are a lot of them. Elizabeth believes that they make it a certainty that this pipeline will never get built. (Tumultuous applause!)
Another off-island guest, Romilly Cavanaugh, has a less familiar name but is also an expert in her field, which is environmental engineering. She shared her expertise in the cleanup of bitumen spills in salt water. The Salish Sea comes to mind.
At best, she told us, under ideal conditions (like in a bathtub on dry land), only 10 per cent of a bitumen spill could ever be collected or adequately dispersed. Not 100 per cent. Not even 50 per cent or 25 per cent. Just 10 per cent at best.
A third expert, elder Mavis Underwood from the WSANEC First Nation, whose lands we co-habit, impressed us with stories of the riches of the ocean on which her ancestors lived for centuries before ours arrived. Only a fraction remains, and 90 per cent of it would be suffocating in oil if there’s a spill.
Her welcome to us, since this is the unceded territory of her ancestors, included a song in the WSANEC language, sung by her nine-year-old granddaughter Grace.
But the speakers who brought the community out to Fulford Hall on a Saturday night, with their desserts to share in one hand and their cheque books open in the other, were the Salt Spring Nine themselves. Every one spoke their truth. Every one was brilliant.
I can’t do them justice in this small space, so let me encourage you to watch Bill Warriner’s footage of their “1 minute talks” at https://vimeo.com/user32828627. Really, you’ll just want to give them all thanks and hugs (and maybe money).
Then there were the musical performers and poets: Phil Vernon accompanied by a chorus of musical friends, as well as Bill Henderson, Luke Wallace, Bob Bossin (on tape) and Murray Reiss. Their unquenchable energy raised ours, and brought the Fulford Hall crowd into complete, determined agreement: we’re stopping that black snake spitting heavy oil at us from the tar sands!
To donate to the cause, deposit a cheque at Island Savings made out to Stand Up Salt Spring, account #2650109. You can also still contribute through https://ca.gofundme.com/saltspringnine. For more information, visit standupsaltspring.wordpress.com.
The writer is part of the Stand Up Salt Spring campaign.