(Please Note: the italics are what I wrote but chose to omit as the bell had already struck and though I wanted to I didn’t actually wear this outfit. Woulda been fun though!)
Hello Sheila, Hans and Kenneth thank you for listening with open hearts and minds. I don’t suppose any of this process is a picnic for you so I am appealing to your highest consciousness. Speaking to you from one human being to another: from one organism that needs clean water, air and un-poisoned land with which to thrive to, another.
My name is Nomi Lyonns. And as you won’t be surprised, I’m here speaking out against the Enbridge Pipeline. You’ve already heard from much wiser and more informed persons than I such as our First Nations community, scientists and others on the subjects of the health, cultural, environmental and economic impacts. From their authoritative perspective, it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to deduce that this project does not make any forward thinking sense. If it weren’t so sad, I’d laugh at the irony of us madly digging up the dinosaurs when the whole oil industry is a dinosaur in itself.
Hopefully, listening to all the wise words over this last year has had some effect to sober your thoughts enough to rethink and turn down this ill-devised and intensely arcane Northern Gateway Project.
I fear however, that as many have suggested before me, that it’s already a done deal according to Stephen Harper’s assertion of just that to the Chinese government. On the off chance that this board will indeed act on the bigger picture and deliver a deafening NO to Mr. Harper in your final report, I humbly offer my personal perspective.
Now according to Joe Oliver I am a dangerous radical, tree-hugging, anti-business, socialist, commie, hippie, pinko, wing nut or whatever other disparaging and distracting slur that may come to a bully’s mind.
In my view, I’m a small business owner — I am yoga teacher and natural health consultant holding healing retreats on Salt Spring Island. I rely heavily on tourism and a healthy environment to have a successful business. I grew up on Salt Spring and also spent a time in Prince Rupert. Living along the west coast my whole life I have traveled the waters both on ferries and on the cruise ships where I worked for a number of years. I’ve traversed the seas from the tip of Vancouver Island clear up to Alaska. I’m well acquainted with the storms and severe weather we have in this region that as recently as last month cancelled numerous ferry sailings. And, I can tell you first hand these are not the calm and predictable seas Enbridge’s misleading “mean average” maths would have you believe. There were many, many evenings that I spent in prayer that our 70 tonne ship would survive the 60 foot waves regularly slamming into us.
I’m also an editor for handful of a online news sites: one a stock market analysis site another a news wire service in Vancouver and another an environmental review website. The latter has been the result of an ever exasperated feeling that the powers that be are not doing enough to deal with climate change – something that all the insurance companies around the globe seem to believe in – not to mention the climate change denying scientists such as Richard Mueller.
Like many, I’ve been acutely aware of climate change for years: I’ve witnessed the dramatic drop in species numbers in the wetlands near where I live, I’ve noticed the change in weather patterns and I’ve listened to the unbiased scientists who have nothing to gain by acknowledging our global situation. All the while I’ve wondered, when will the scales tip? When will the powers that be open their eyes, give their children and grandchildren a fighting chance – and act in a rational manner. The cynic in me feels that true to humanity’s foolishness in these things, we’ll wait till it’s too late.
Part of me feels this is a waste of my valuable time however, the yogi in me has to be hopeful that our goodness will prevail over our greed, stupidity and arrogance.
In our short sightedness, we’ve created this ugly entity called the Tar Sands where we must lie to others and ourselves to convince us that the few temporary jobs created are good for Canada. If so why are we bringing in foreign workers who will work for less than what the current workers are willing. I know some of these workers personally and we’ve discussed the elephant in the room. They themselves have confirmed first hand knowledge of pollution, leakage and coverups.
One story highlights the dishonesty inherent in the Tar Sand business practices whereby my friend, after reporting a tailing pond leakage spilling into a waterway, was inexplicably and immediately transferred to another project area. Meanwhile, another friend told of her astonishment when she witnessed a work glove she’d accidentally dropped into one of these tailing ponds dissolve before her eyes. She said, “Now, I know what happened to all those birds”.
More astonishing to me was that, knowing all this my friends could still work at such a literal and figurative toxic place. My friend’s comment was that she wanted her slice of the pie and if it wasn’t her someone else would do it. Guess she was right about that. Like everyone else, it was the money that lured her – despite her knowledge of the health risks to herself – not to mention all the people living in the area and downstream. She felt that since she was a heavy smoker and self-admitted alcoholic she was going to die young any way.
The fact that Enbridge is off the hook when there is the inevitable oil spill, the fact that they have consistently lied to the public by covering up their past spills, used misleading advertisements that rewrites maps and misinforms the public concerns me immensely and it should be a huge red flag to anyone who is sincere in their assessment as to the integrity of any company.
When will we stop lying to ourselves that we even need this project in this day and age in Canada. Denmark is going to be 100% green energy by 2015, Germany is well on its way and even India and China are putting more money into green infrastructure than we are. Just the other day, Joe Oliver suggested that the US is only 20-30 years away from being oil independent. So what are we doing?
I’m assuming it’s this board’s job to to be responsible. To tell the Truth. The Truth is, from the bigger picture perspective, we, and everything else, are all connected. The breath I just breathed is in you now and vice versa. We know this intellectually. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know but we are not behaving in our own best interest if we keep ignoring the science based facts that have been systematically stripped away from the public eye.
We are living in a remarkable age where the consciousness of the planet is changing, where there are no more secrets, where we must work together in a sustainable way in order for our own survival. Don’t let us get left behind like the dinosaurs. We’re smart Canadians, we can once again be leaders on the world stage if we clean up our act. If we can undo the damage that has been done by Stephen Harper’s regime.
I invite you to step up and be a real hero; be the accountable leaders you can be: have the courage to do the right thing. To have compassion for your fellow humans as well as the animals and ecosystems that we are all part of. We don’t own the earth, we are part of it. We are made up of minerals and water and carbon, we are what we eat and we eat and drink what this earth provides. We can’t take it with us but the insanity of greed somehow makes us forget this fact.
Now please don’t get me wrong, I do not want to be a hypocrite — I do drive a truck after all but I must walk my talk. I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination however, mostly I walk, take the bus, ride my bike, hitch hike and car pool or use skype for as many meetings as possible. My personal best is to have a tank of gas last me 3 months because I do believe it is all our responsibility to create the change we want to see in the world. I know we won’t get off oil over night so we must ween ourselves off now.
In closing I would just ask that you consider what you want your epitaph or the history books to say about you – about your role in this historical time. That you were brave, responsible, forward-thinkers who truly cared about your legacy and families or that you helped put the nail in all our coffins.