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Shell’s Exploration Efforts Curtailed in Northwestern BC

After blocking Royal Dutch Shell’s access to their hunting grounds on August 21, Tahltan elders have won a temporary court victory. Shell has postponed their injunction application indefinitely. This is the third summer in a row that Shell has tried to move into the Klappan region of northwestern BC. They own the permits to explore for coalbed methane. The area is labeled by locals and environmentalists as the Sacred Headwaters of the Skeena, Nass, and Stikine Rivers.

I was in Iskut last week and heard universal condemnation of Shell’s efforts in my conversations with people there. My anthropological senses are piqued, however, by the growing environmentalist association with this cause. Organized by the Skeena Watershed Society, a Facebook page detailing the issues has grown to more than 1000 members. Last Friday, rallies of several hundred people took place in Vancouver and Smithers. David Suzuki spoke at the Vancouver rally (audio below). Tahltan people are centrally involved in these efforts to be sure, but I am amazed at the speed with which non-natives from around the world have rallied this year on-the-ground and in cyber-space.

(These events remind me of the protests on the BC Central Coast in 1995 and 1997. Those protests over logging on King Island led to the creation of the Great Bear Rainforest. While environmentalists advocated for the protection of coastal forests from logging throughout the mid-1990s, it was Nuxalk (Bella Coola) native people who were arrested in 1995 for preventing logging. By 1997, most of those arrested at blockades were non-natives. In September 2005, Tahltan elders were arrested for blocking Shell’s attempts to explore in the Klappan. This year, the full weight of the environmental movement supports Tahltan elders and the news media is being much more aware of the issues.)

Background

My Previous Blog Posts about Tahltans (including the campaign against Shell)
A Methane Battle is Brewing (Georgia Straight, Vancouver)
Court Looms over Coalbed Protest (theTyee.ca)

Audio

Listen to David Suzuki’s speech at the Vancouver rally here.

Pictures

My Flickr Album of the Vancouver Rally
Flickr album of Protest Camp and Klappan Valley (2006)
Protest Camp Highway Sign (2007)
Sacred Headwaters Photo Page
Dogwood Initiative’s YouTube Videos

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