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Barlow speaks on water protection to 300 people at a public forum in Courtenay

Photo by Vancouver-based Council of Canadians water campaigner Emma Lui.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow spoke to a full-house of 300 people in Courtenay, British Columbia last night.

Barlow drew from her latest book Boiling Point: Government Neglect, Corporate Abuse, and Canada’s Water Crisis to talk about key water protection issues in the lead-up to the May 9 provincial election.

Those issues include: the Site C dam (that is being built on the Peace River in Treaty 8 territory without the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous peoples), the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline (that would cross 1,063 waterways in the province and poses a risk spill to the Pacific Ocean), Premier Christy Clark’s agenda of fracking and liquefied natural gas projects (it takes about 77 million litres of water to frack just one well in the Horn River basin), and Nestle bottled water takings (Nestle extracts about 265 million litres of water each year from the Kawkawa aquifer in Hope in Sto:lo territory).

Barlow highlighted:

  • “We must make water an election issue. It’s a cross-cutting issue. Water must be central to all policy.”

  • “Site C would displace many First Nations, flood burial grounds and cultural and historical sites, prime farmland.”

  • “83 per cent of Canada’s bottled water exports come from British Columbia. Please join the Nestle and bottled water boycott.”

  • “Future generations have the same rights as we do – to breath clean air and drink clean water. Much rests on what we do now.”

Barlow was introduced by Council of Canadians Comox Valley chapter activist and national Board of Directors member Alice de Wolff.

The other speakers last night were David Stapley from the Comox Valley Conservation Strategy (a regional conservation planning framework) and Coree Tull from the Freshwater Alliance (which works to strengthen individual and collective actions to protect waterways).

The evening also featured the K’umugwe Dancers (who share the songs and dances of the K’omoks and Kwakwaka’wakw peoples) and Tina Filippino from Letz Sing (a community choir in Comox Valley).

The event was co-sponsored by the Comox Valley Global Awareness Network, the Comox Valley Conservation Partnership, and the Freshwater Alliance.

The tour now continues to Nanaimo (tonight), Victoria (April 8), Williams Lake (April 10), and Kamloops (April 11).