The ocean is, and has always been, a vital part to Haida culture; it’s a gathering place, a playground, a teacher, and a grocery store all bundled into one. Masset has a very different feel to either Skidegate or Queen Charlotte City – less populated, certainly, but also less hurried and more humble.
Today, Haida culture is once again flourishing, thanks in large part to the Haida Language Center, dedicated to preserving the Haida language through the creation of immersion programs and educational curriculum. It is here that we’ve settled in for the morning, to hear Elders’ thoughts on Enbridge’s plan to send upwards of 225 super-tankers per year through their waters.
Roughly a hundred years ago, the area surrounding Prince Rupert was known for its canneries. Today, the wooden structures that once housed thousands of workers are for the most part abandoned or otherwise dilapidated, and serve as silent reminders of the cruel impermanence of resource-based industries.
A barge and several private ferries are docked at the bay, and cranes, trucks, and backhoes are all busy tearing away at the side of the mountain; as the boat slowly bobs along, Marc spots flagging tape and paint markers along the shore, a clear indication that we have arrived at the proposed site of the Marine Terminal.
Sixty-five kilometres from the town of Houston lies a small community unlike any other. This is the home of the Unist’ot’en, an Indigenous resistance community who have declared an all-out ban on pipelines routed through their territory.
Over 120 communities participated in a “National Day of Action” to voice opposition to pipeline development projects, expansion of the Albertan tar sands, and anthropogenic climate change. We spent the day in Terrace, where the focus was centred firmly on the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, slated to pass just 60 kilometres south of the town.
Mid-November is not an ideal time to go fly-fishing. Wisps of steam rise from the water’s surface where it meets the frigid air, and icicles cling to branches along the shore. At rest, the air is still, but on the water, it quickly transforms into a piercing, frigid jet. Len describes it in the least dramatic terms as “the last weekend of the season”; my toes and I see it in more stark terms.
At 84 years old, Del Hearn continues to live alone on a quarter section of land, roughly 10 kilometers outside of Fort St. James. To the north, his property is bounded by a dirt road; to the east and west, by other homesteads; and to the south, by a bluff of mixed aspen located square in the path of the Northern Gateway’s 85-metre right-of-way.