Category Archives: Water
April 24, 2017
To the Ends of the Earth—the feature film examining the rise of extreme energy, the end of economic growth, and the people caught in the middle—is screening Thursday May 4 at 7 PM in the Northern United Place auditorium.
The film examines the state of our energy system today, and the people in critical positions watching global developments unfold. We meet Inuit concerned that undersea seismic testing is harming marine mammals Inuit rely upon for food. Or the environmental lawyer who goes on a journey to areas that produce energy for the Tarsands of Alberta. Or the river conservationist in Utah who fights to protect the Colorado River from oil shale projects that would disturb its headwaters.
‘To the Ends of the Earth’ brings forward the voices of those who not only denounce the rise of extreme energy, but also envision the new world that is taking shape instead: a future beyond the resource pyramid, a post- growth economy.
The film is presented by the NWT Chapter of the Council of Canadians. Admission is by donation.
October 31, 2016
The Council of Canadians Northwest Territories chapter has submitted its written brief on the Navigation Protection Act to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.
NWT chapter activist Lois Little writes, “Under Omnibus Budget Bill C-45, the previous Conservative Government eliminated environmental protection of 99% of Canada’s lakes and rivers when the Navigable Waters Protection Act was replaced with the Navigation Protection Act (NPA).”
That change reduced the scope of the Act to just 159 lakes and rivers, leaving more than 31,000 lakes and 2.25 million rivers without federal scrutiny.
Little highlights, “In the NWT, only three water bodies retain some environmental protection – Great Slave Lake, Great Bear Lake and the Mackenzie River. The NPA also exempted large projects such as pipelines from scrutiny so their impacts are no longer assessed for any navigable waterway. Lack of federal protection of our many lakes and rivers is worrisome for residents in the NWT as there is no modern legislation to protect our water against climate change, drought, and risky industrial activities such as fracking and mining, or to enforce trans-boundary water agreements with neighbouring jurisdictions.
And she notes, “Every effort must be made to protect our lakes and rivers and navigable waterways. The June 2013 Rosenberg International Forum report on the Mackenzie River Basin stated that the Basin may be the most threatened in the world by climate change. This is because it is the largest cold water basin on the continent and therefore, the lynch pin that holds the ice-water-weather-climate of North America together. Robust legislation to protect and manage water resources including navigable waterways must be in place to address these modern-day challenges.”
Fractured Land, the story of a young Dene lawyer and activist’s battle against fracking in Northern British Columbia, will be screened Wednesday March 23 at 7 PM at Northern United Place.
Fractured Land follows the political awakening of Caleb Ben through community life and law school, sharing knowledge with other Indigenous peoples, speaking to larger and larger audiences, dealing with deep community divisions, and building a movement to fight big oil interests.
“Fractured Land offers vital lessons for our movement to prevent fracking in the NWT, and on the need to be vigilant of the up-stream impacts affecting the health of the entire Mackenzie River Basin,” says Council of Canadians Co-Chair Lois Little.
The 2015 film shows how new leaders like Caleb are forging alliances with scientists and environmentalists, sharing strategies using traditional knowledge and contemporary law, and keeping up the pressure for a total, national ban on fracking.
“Fractured Land demonstrates how people have mobilized to protect our precious heritage of fresh water from poisonous fracking operations,” Little says, “It’s the kind of unity and determination we need if we are to make the new Mackenzie Basin trans-boundary water agreements mean anything for water protection.”
The Fractured Land screening is part of the 2016 Water Week activities underway to raise awareness of water issues in the NWT.
Download the poster
The Council of Canadians Northwest Territories chapter has drawn a jar of water from Great Slave Lake to send to Justin Trudeau. The water will be part of a ‘climate welcome’ action in Ottawa on Nov. 7 to remind the new prime minister about the threats posed by tar sands expansion and pipelines to waterways across this country.
The Athabasca River, which is near many tar sands projects, flows north into the Peace-Athabasca Delta, south of Fort Chipewyan, and then into Slave River and Great Slave Lake. The Natural Resources Defense Council has commented, “Northern communities living downstream from the massive [tar sands] tailings dams are aware and concerned about risks presented by the tar-sands industry upstream. A larger spill could threaten not just the Athabasca river but the Peace-Athabasca delta, Lake Athabasca, the Slave river and delta, Great Slave Lake, and the Mackenzie river and delta, all of which empty into the Beaufort sea. Cleaning such a spill could cost billion of dollars.”
Tuesday March 17, 7 PM Northern United Place
Water On The Table explores Canada’s relationship to its freshwater, arguably its most precious natural resource. Is water a commercial good like running shoes or Coca-Cola? Or, is water a human right like air?
The film features Maude Barlow, who is considered an “international water-warrior” for her crusade to have water declared a human right.
”Water must be declared a public trust and a human right that belongs to the people, the ecosystem and the future, and preserved for all time and practice in law. Clean water must be delivered as a public service, not a profitable commodity,” says Barlow.
The film received the Donald Brittain Award for Best Social Political Documentary and is nominated for this year’s Gemini Award as best theatrical and broadcast documentary. See more details at the Water on the Table website.
News/North Guest Column
Co-Chair, NWT Chapter, Council of Canadians
Over the past year, there have been a number of news reports on the possibility of shipping diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands north along the Mackenzie Valley via pipeline to Tuktoyaktuk, where it would then be loaded on tankers for overseas export. This pipeline is being referred to as the Arctic Gateway project.
A study commissioned by the Alberta government and released this past September called this initiative “feasible,” to the apparent delight of our premier, Bob McLeod.
Our Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Dave Ramsay, who is also the regulatory minister for NWT oil and gas development, was recently quoted in the Globe and Mail as saying that “We’re hoping to see the concept expanded upon and moved forward here soon.”
But wait a minute! Isn’t bitumen (also known as asphalt or tar) one of the dirtiest and riskiest forms of fossil fuels on the planet?
October 1, 2014
People will gather in Somba K’e Park at noon Saturday and march to Northern United Place to participate in an information session on the dangers of fracking. The documentary “Showdown”, which focuses on the anti-fracking protests in New Brunswick, will be screened.
Participation in the worldwide event is being organized by the NWT Chapter of the Council of Canadians.
“Global Frackdown will unite concerned citizens around the globe to tell elected officials that we want a future lit by clean, renewable energy; not dirty, polluting fossil fuels.” says Council of Canadians spokesperson Lorraine Hewlett. “The journey to a renewable energy future will not be fueled by oil and gas.”
“Horizontal fracking is moving forward in the Sahtu without even an environmental assessment. We have no detailed understanding of the short- or long-term impacts of this technology on Sahtu water resources; we don’t know the full details of the composition or quantity of chemicals that will remain underground;, and have no certainty that highly contaminated waste fluids will be managed properly toprevent leaks and spills into our northern waters.
Halifax Chronicle Herald September 3, 2014
There will be no fracking in Nova Scotia.
Energy Minister Andrew Younger announced Wednesday that the Liberal government plans to introduce legislation in the fall prohibiting hydraulic fracturing in shale oil and gas projects in the province.
“Nova Scotians have indicated that by a wide margin they are concerned about hydraulic fracturing and they do not want it as part of onshore development of shales in Nova Scotia at this time,” Younger said during a news conference, to the loud applause of environmentalists in attendance.
The decision follows the recent release of a report by a panel, led by Cape Breton University president David Wheeler, that concluded the province wasn’t able to make fully informed decisions for or against the development of unconventional gas and oil resources by hydraulic fracturing without further research
The NWT Chapter of the Council of Canadians is strongly committed to the protection of our water resources. We are joining with citizens in the Sahtu Region and elsewhere in the NWT to call for an environmental assessment of the recent ConocoPhillips fracking application.
Although Husky Oil withdrew its application to carry out fracking in the Sahtu, ConocoPhillips has filed a new application to expand on its current work, which was approved without an environmental assessment.
The Council of Canadians NWT Chapter has filed comments with the Sahtu Land and Water Board, requesting that they honour the 790 people who signed the Legislative Assembly petition calling for an environmental assessment of the next fracking project. See the NWT Chapter letter and media release.
We urge concerned individuals and organizations to do the same.
A sample letter for individuals and a background document have been prepared for use in writing and filing comments.
The Sahtu Land and Water Board will accept all letters received by June 16, 2014.
With a thorough environmental assessment that engages the public, we are hopeful that good decisions can be made for the health of our water, our land, and our people.
Co-Chair, NWT Chapter Council of Canadians
Canadian Medical Association Journal April 15, 2014
While scientists and area residents have been sounding the alarm about the health impacts of shale gas drilling for years, recent studies, a legal decision and public health advocates are bringing greater legitimacy to concerns.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves drilling vertically, then horizontally, into shale rock to obtain methane or natural gas. Water, chemicals and sand are blasted into the drilled wells, creating cracks in the adjacent rock and releasing the gases into the well. The process requires dozens of chemicals for various purposes, including reducing heat and suspending drill cuttings to avoid clogs.
Fracking is booming in northeastern BC, where more than 7300 shale gas wells have been drilled, as well as in Alberta and New Brunswick. The provinces of Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia have imposed moratoriums on fracking until more evidence about its effects on the environment and health is available.