The New Year brings with it the opportunity to take stock of our accomplishments and look to the future. 2007 was a momentous year for Dogwood Initiative. Not only has the organization grown, but, more importantly, the idea of creating a sustainable BC based on community engagement and local control took root in communities around BC. As people stood up to protect the integrity of their community and environment they discovered something surprising. They can win.
Saving the Sacred Headwaters
In the Sacred Headwaters of northern BC small First Nations in Iskut and Dease lake, the Tahltan, have been taking on Royal Dutch Shell, the worlds 2nd most profitable corporation, and winning. Their efforts are protecting the headwaters of three of BC’s most important salmon bearing river from the perils of coalbed methane development. Dogwood has helped by convening a group of international advocacy groups including friends of the earth and Greenpeace to throw their weight behind the cause.
Other Coalbed Methane victories
The people of Smithers and adjacent Telkwa also rallied around protecting their communities from coallbed methane development and to date, despite a significant push from the BC government, BC remains free from this type of development that has caused so many problems in other jurisdictions.
On the southern shores of Vancouver Island people are coming forward to stop another incidence of the government pandering to corporate interests to the detriment of BC’s public. “Tree farm license deletion” doesn’t sound like much a rallying cry, but what it means to the people of the Capital Regional District is that they will no longer have access to cherished lands around Sooke and Jordan River. The outcry has lead to a CRD proposing zoning changes that would make the land unappealing to developers.
Dogwood exposed potential links between political donations and the move by Forestry Minister, Rich Coleman, allowing Western Forest Products to reap windfall profits from the sale of its tree farm lands to developers. Dogwood also shed light on suspicious trading of WFP stock around the time of the deal.
Dogwood also mobilized thousands of people throughout BC to keep our northern coastal waters oil tanker free. The hotbed of activity has been just north of Victoria in Saanich where people are putting pressure on Conservative MP, and minister of Natural Resources, Gary Lunn to protect our coast. As MP in one of Canada’s greenest ridings “Dirty Gary” could be out of a job come election time.
Texada Action Now
As the threat of tankers moved south public furor ignited over a proposed LNG facility on Texada Island. An ad hoc group, Texada Action Now, quickly formed to fight off the proposal. In a comprehensive survey Island residents they found now 2% in favour of an LNG facility. This fight is just beginning.
For most of this work the real credit goes to the First Nations and communities that are working to ensure a sustainable future. For now this might looks a bit like incremental change, but as more communities in BC get a sense of their own power we are looking for a real shift in 2008.