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By Jerome Irwin
Typically, like most Canadians, I’m deeply concerned about a lot of pressing issues in Canada and the world at large: the course and direction of the upcoming federal election; what some meekly call climate change while others, because of the dire threat it poses to the very continuation of life in the future for all human and non-human species, more correctly deem it to be a climate crisis of an unparalleled nature; a wide range of the violated historical promises that have been made to the indigenous, aboriginal peoples of Canada to honor and respect their unique place in Canadian society, as well as: the many same violated historical promises that have also been made to non-indigenous Canadians about a wide range of related issues, one of which especially is the pressing need for the politicians and the government of Canada to demonstrably show to Canadian society that a concerted move is being made, as rapidly as it can tangibly be made, to demonstrate the many real creative, innovative changes that can be made to realize in the near and distant future a truly petroleum-free, lower emission way of life – not by the year 2025-2030-2040-2050 or 2100 – but NOW – TODAY!
Yet this would seem to be a difficult if nigh impossible task to do when: on every commercial on every television channel, 24/7, especially during every major sporting event and cultural event, heralded in every newspaper and popular lifestyle magazine; repeatedly shown during every pre-show in every theater across the land, or; what pop-culture celebrities and society notables demonstrably flaunt every day, 365 days of the year, all the flash automobiles and products they choose to buy that suggests to all the children and future citizens of the world; that this is what the “Good Life” is all about.
It has been patently clear, since the Paris Accord, that Canada and the world at large is far too embedded in the old petroleum-fixated life of the past to make any significant changes beyond what niggardly, half-hearted, piece meal, lip service changes have thus far been made to change anything and everything about the way human civilization is going, desires to go or conceivably can go. We’re all locked in too deeply to The Black Crude Sludge that represents the collective decayed detritus of the planet’s distant prehistoric, dinosauric past that existed long before humans as a species were yet even on the planet. Yet humans remain intent in searching in every way they can, while going everywhere deeper into the bowels of the earth, to bring back to the surface of this reality in the 21st century something that it thinks will make a way of life it deems desirable and yet, like every addict with whatever substance they’re addicted to, gradually and predictably is killing them and will kill all their offspring the longer they all remain hooked.
The most recent evolution of this addictive process can be seen by what some now tout to be, “Canada’s Aboriginal Pipedream that might end Justin Trudeau’s TransMountain Nightmare”. One need only has to google any search engine anything to do with a so-called: Reconciliation Pipeline or Project Reconciliation to realize the long list that exists among the number of greedy petroleum-based energy companies, native entrepreneurial enterprises and their corporate media promoters who now are jumping on the bandwagon and lionizing this latest venture to the bottomless abyss of a perpetual petroleum-laden world. Much is being made of the promise to bring about a Reconciliation that Canada, and the unresolved national guilt it harbours towards its historical treatment of aboriginal peoples, has anguished about ever since the point of first contact between the cultures of the Old & New Worlds and Confederation.
It’s said that some 350 million indigenous peoples still exist in the world, who now hold 80% of the world’s biodiversity. But all of them are under a serious threat to their very existence with mega petroleum-corporate-economic projects like China’s Silk Road development throughout the Middle East and Africa. It’s alarming what humans continue to conceive, with megalomanical projects like the Silk Road, and what the direction of such projects portend for the future of the entire planet of non-human species, not to mention the world’s indigenous people who en mass are being everywhere evicted from their traditional territories for the sake of these mega development projects. The fact is that wherever incursions such mega projects are now making in the Middle East, Egypt, Africa, and, indeed throughout Europe and dthe America’s themselves, indigenous peoples are the first to be evicted and the first to suffer, grievously. Not only that but the world’s total fixation on such economic initiatives means that indigenous peoples and their sacred territories especially will be the first ones to go under, not to mention what all the continued economic expansion and development in this direction means to the continued rape and pillage of the earth’s natural resources, minerals and non-human native life for an insanely-incessant expansionistic process to continue that does nothing more than feed insatiable human greed for ever more.
The concept now of yet another pipeline, albeit this time by Aboriginal, First Nation entrepreneurs, that will triple the capacity of the crude to be transported through the sacred territories of so many unwilling indigenous and non-indigcenous peoples is an odious one. It flies in the face of Canada’s original promise made to all Canadians at the Paris Accords to take speedy and significant steps to switch from a non-sustainable petroleum-based economy to a truly green sustainable one. If Canada’s native peoples now are to be nothing more than the new petroleum king pins through their so-called Reconciliation Pipeline Project how does tripling the crude from the Tar Sands fit into this shift to a green economy? How is continuing to suck every last drop of the pure, clean, sacred ancestral waters that lie below the province of Alberta, that must continue to be contaminated and destroyed forever, that is turning Alberta into a virtual national sacrifice area for Canada’s continued cowardly refusal to make the hard decisions and choices that must be made for the future well-being of all our children and their children seven generatins hence? How is this ever going to become a template for the future if, by being more concerned with not breaking further promises to Canada’s indigenous peoples it now simultaneously breaks the governments promises made to all Canadians to work towards a greener, brighter, healthier future? If other indigenous peoples in the world were to do the same, and become kissing cousins and co-partners with the dark operatives of Juggernauts like the Silk Road or Trans Mountain Pipeline, how does that make them any different than just another OPEC player among all the marauding Jack boots who are marching throughout the world?
The UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples is attempting to play its part, through a recently-held Global Landscapes Forum in the Bonn Climate Change Conference, and has presented to the world an Indigenous Rights Approach Solution to the Climate Change Crisis. This writer’s own whole life as an activist and as a writer, goes back to what some refer to as, “Those early Spiritual Wild West Days” – that occurred during the occupation of Alcatraz, the times spent with the traditional Dakota and Lakota elders at places like Crow Creek and Wounded Knee and, more recently, during the despicable Dakota Access Pipeline debacle – when those formative years in the spiritual responsibilities towards life first began to amply the voices of traditional Indigenous Peoples. Many who were present during those earlier and more recent times have quickly realized that the teachings they’ve received from the elders have so many answers to give about life, beauty and health of humans and the earth.
More recently, this writer carried this responsibility one step further by generating the article, “water not oil battle cry of the blue planet”, that seeks to amplify the voice of Giindajing Guujaaw, a traditional chief of the Haida Nation who has what this one believes to be one of the soundest criticisms yet heard about projects like the Reconciliation Pipeline PipeDream and the way we all must conduct ourselves in the future.
One important question to be asked and answered now is, “Is the pipe dream being put forward real reconciliation or is it some kind of cynical blackmail payback idea of reconciliation? This writer’s article, as one answer, continues to slowly make the rounds among various indigenous and non-indigenous peoples circles.
In searching for their own answers, every Canadian and citizen of the world now needs to clarify for themselves, their loved one and their people what the real issues are.
Jerome Irwin is a freelance writer who, for decades, in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, has sought to call attention to problems of sustainability caused by excessive mega-developments, the resulting horrors of traffic gridlock, loss of single family neighborhoods and a host of related environmental-ecological-spiritual issues and concerns that exist between the conflicting philosophies of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.