Squamish Nation conducts review

By Chief Ian Campbell:  Guest columnist / North Shore News

URL:  http://www.nsnews.com/opinion/squamish-nation-conducts-review-1.1803933#sthash.VBnrDrrJ.dpuf

Why does the Squamish Nation insist on conducting an independent assessment of the proposed Woodfibre LNG project?

After all, both the federal and provincial governments are conducting environmental assessments of their own.

A good question. With two good answers.

The first reason is it has much to do with protecting the valuable marine resources of the Squamish estuary and Howe Sound, both within our traditional territory.

We are working to bring Howe Sound back to a level of natural sustainability — before industrial pollution began to destroy marine life, starting with the Britannia copper mine in 1904.

Then in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, mining effluent was joined by contamination and environmental degradation from chemical plants, logging and pulp mills.

These turned the Sound into a dead and poisoned place where toxic mercury levels meant we could no longer eat the fish.

The rehabilitation of the Sound has become a sacred trust for us. And there is much good news to report: The herring are coming back; so are the wild salmon and cod; and, as recent sightings demonstrate, killer whales and Pacific white-sided dolphins are returning too. But there is a lot still to be done.

The second reason we insist on “going independent” when it comes to the Woodfibre project has to do with history. It has taught us that we can’t rely on governments who attempted to alienate us from our homelands and limit our authority and decision-making.

During 100 years of darkness, our ancestors were driven from villages at Jericho, Kitsilano and at the mouth of the Squamish Estuary.

Those lessons still resonate today. Consider Anvil Island, an important place of spiritual training for the Squamish.

According to a new book, the island was anglicized on June 14, 1792, by Captain George Vancouver, whose journal for the day reads: “The sun shining at this time for a few minutes afforded an island which, from the shape of the mountain that composes it, obtained the name of Anvil island.”

Plain and simple, the island was then stolen from our ancestors.

In 1874 after sailing throughout the Sound in search of a good place to settle, Englishman Thomas J. Keeling hauled up his dingy on Anvil Island’s shores.

He had come to Howe Sound after announcing to his wife and nine children, “I am going to Canada. Who is coming with me?”

Like many of his generation, Keeling was swept up in the excitement of Britain’s rapid expansion overseas, which seemed to offer unlimited opportunities to acquire new lands — for free.

When walking through a glade of arbutus, Keeling came upon a Squamish Indian — one old man and his cow. There was no one else on the island.

He went to the Indian agent in New Westminster and said he would like to purchase the property. But he had a slight problem — the old man.

The Indian agent said, “Take a small boat and a pistol. Point the pistol at the Indian and tell him and his cow to get on the skiff and leave for good.”

Never, ever again. Against long odds, we have regained power and control, entering the economic mainstream as free and independent citizens.

And today, in Phase Two of our independent assessment of Woodfibre, we are collating science-based data with reaction from our members.

As a next step, we will clearly spell out the risks and the benefits of the Woodfibre proposal to our members.

In late spring, Squamish Nation council will vote to accept or reject the proposal. Unswayed by others, we will decide our own future — by, and for, ourselves.

Ian Campbell is one of 16 hereditary chiefs of the Squamish Nation. He is currently serving his second term as an elected councillor for the Squamish Nation.

-Posted by Ryan

Squamish: What happens when environmental tools and policies align?


By: Theresa Beer, Communications Specialist

The small community of Squamish was once an epicentre for industrial development, so people there know a lot about the costs of cleaning up when industry leaves town. After decades of recovery efforts to clean up from timber companies, pulp mills, copper mines and commercial fishing, the town — and the Howe Sound region — is experiencing a remarkable marine revival. Residents see the benefits of intact ecosystems as whales and porpoises frolic nearby.

Humans, too, benefit from intact ecosystems. Now there’s a tool to help decision-makers use economic data on the value of services provided by those ecosystems in the Howe Sound area. It turns out that Howe Sound has an astounding trove of unrecognized — and undervalued — natural wealth. The sound acts as the lungs and circulatory system for the entire Lower Mainland region, yet until now we haven’t properly valued the contribution of its ecosystem services.

A new foundation report, Sound Investment: Measuring the Return on Howe Sound’s Ecosystem Assets, found that Howe Sound’s watersheds provide an estimated $800 million to $4.7 billion in ecological services from nature to the region each year. This amount is similar to the yearly contribution of provincial natural resource industries, such as mining, to B.C.’s GDP ($3.38 billion in 2011).

Squamish is recognizing the benefits of a healthy environment on another front. The town recently became the 21st community in Canada to adopt a declaration recognizing the right of its citizens to breathe clean air, drink clean water and consume safe food from healthy soil. The declaration states that council will ensure that costs to human health and the environment are considered in policies and practices. It will encourage council to incorporate nature into decision-making: our natural capital report provides the tools to help them do that.

Keeping ecosystems whole and healthy can ensure that communities have access to our most important needs: clean air and water. Watersheds provide Howe Sound communities with fresh water and benefits associated with the filtering, retention and storage of water. Ecosystems trap and retain nutrients and pollutants and clean or purify water. Air is purified by forests that clean the atmosphere by intercepting airborne particles and absorbing pollutants. A single tree can absorb about five kilograms of air pollution annually and produce enough oxygen to support two people.

In addition to clean water and air, a stable climate, protection from natural disasters and a place to connect with nature are just some of the additional many services nature gives us. The Howe Sound study found beaches (recreation and protecting against storms) had the highest value, followed by wetlands (waste treatment, water supply and habitat) and eelgrass beds (nutrient cycling, carbon storage and habitat).

The B.C. government is considering over $2 billion in industrial projects for the sound, including a gravel mine at McNab Creek, a liquefied natural gas plant in Woodfibre and a waste incinerator in Port Mellon, in the very areas — near the shore — that are the most highly valued in the natural capital study.

Information in the study can be used to modify environmental assessments to incorporate ecosystem services before development approvals, set financial assurances in line with the assessed non-market values and incorporate natural capital into asset-management programs.

The town of Squamish, like many communities in Canada, is at a crossroads where the development decisions it makes now will have a lasting impact. Let’s hope natural capital is at the decision-making table.

-Posted by Ryan

Suzuki: Time to end grisly trophy hunt


Watching grizzly bears catch and eat salmon as they swim upstream to spawn is an unforgettable experience. Many people love to view the wild drama. Some record it with photos or video. But a few want to kill the iconic animals — not to eat, just to put their heads on a wall or coats on a floor.

Foreign hunters bag BC bears
The spring grizzly kill starts April 1 and extends for several weeks, followed by a second fall season. By year’s end, several hundred will have died at the hands of humans, close to 90 per cent shot by trophy hunters — many of them foreign licence-holders, as the B.C. government plans to enact new regulations to allow hunters from outside B.C. to take 40 per cent of grizzlies slated for killing. The government also plans to allow foreign interests and corporations to buy and run guide-outfitting territories previously run only by B.C. residents. Local hunting organizations say the new rules put them at a disadvantage.

Government takes money from hunting lobby
According to the Vancouver Observer, hunting guide associations donated $84,800 to B.C. political parties from 2005 to 2013, 84 per cent to the B.C. Liberals.

In the controversy over regulatory changes, we’ve lost touch with the fact that the grizzly trophy hunt is horrific, regardless of whether bears are killed by resident hunters or big-game hunters who pay thousands of dollars for the chance to kill a bear here — often because it’s illegal in their home countries.

BC’s population in doubt
Grizzlies once roamed much of North America, from Mexico to the Yukon and from the West Coast through the prairies. Habitat loss and overhunting have since shrunk their range by more than half. In Canada, 16 subgroups are on the brink of extinction, including nine in south-central B.C. and Alberta’s entire grizzly population.

Just how many bears reside in B.C. is in dispute. The government claims more than 15,000 grizzlies live here, but Raincoast Conservation Foundation science director Chris Darimont, a University of Victoria conservation biologist, puts the number closer to the government’s earlier estimate of 6,600 — before it doubled that in 1990 based on a single study in southeastern B.C.’s Flathead area.

Government scientist’s work suppressed
According to a Maclean’s article, in 2000, the government “suppressed the work of one of its own biologists, Dionys de Leeuw, for suggesting the hunt was excessive and could be pushing the bears to extinction. De Leeuw was later suspended without pay for having pursued the line of inquiry.” The government then pursued a five-year legal battle with groups including Raincoast Conservation and Ecojustice to keep its grizzly kill data sealed.

Allan Thornton, president of the British Environmental Investigation Agency, which has studied B.C. grizzly management since the late 1990s, is blunt about the government’s justification. “The British Columbia wildlife department does not use rigorous science,” he told the Vancouver Observer. In 2004, the European Union banned imports of all B.C. grizzly parts into member countries after its analysis found the hunt to be unsustainable.

Business case questioned
Even the economic case is shaky. Studies by the Centre for Responsible Travel and Raincoast Conservation conclude revenue from bear-viewing is far higher than revenue from grizzly hunting.

Grizzlies play important ecological role
Grizzly population health is an indicator of overall ecosystem health, and bears are important to functioning ecosystems. They help regulate prey such as deer and elk, maintain forest health by dispersing seeds and aerating soil as they dig for food, and fertilize coastal forests by dragging salmon carcasses into the woods. Hunting isn’t the only threat. Habitat loss, decreasing salmon runs, collisions with vehicles and other conflicts with humans also endanger grizzlies. Because they have low reproduction rates, they’re highly susceptible to population decline. Hunting is one threat we can easily control.

First Nations, citizens oppose hunt
According to polls, almost 90 per cent of B.C. residents oppose hunting grizzlies for trophies, including many Frist Nations and food hunters. Scientists say it’s unsustainable. The Coastal First Nations coalition has banned grizzly hunting in its territories, but the government doesn’t recognize the ban. The Raincoast Conservation Foundation has bought hunting licences in an attempt to reduce bear kills on the coast.

Simply put, most British Columbians — and Canadians — are against the grizzly trophy hunt. It’s time for the government to listen to the majority rather than industry donors and ban this barbaric and unsustainable practice.

Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Editor Ian Hanington.

-Posted by Ryan


Here’s a cool song that utilizes the Irish language with Heavy Metal.  The meaning behind the song speaks to the power of healing through art as mentioned by the artist below.

“For those asking about the song’s meaning. It has two meanings!
1. It’s about personal healing through music with the goddess as a metaphor (The theme of the whole album is healing/catharsis through art)
2. Sirona was a Celtic goddess of healing & rebirth on the European continent. But Ireland ‘never found’ Sirona herself, she only made it as far as Gaul. Therefore in the song we still have a hole in our heart that we as a nation have never truly recovered or ‘healed’ from. Hence my call to ‘Come and heal us too’ in the middle section 🙂 I imagined her singing watery, fluid songs to the ancient celts to bring them health & rebirth.”

-Posted by Ryan