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Caribou Legs witnesses water protection fight in Nicola Valley

Caribour Legs in B. C.

Photo: Caribou Legs is currently running through British Columbia.

The Council of Canadians is sponsoring Indigenous ultra-marathon athlete Caribou Legs’ run across the country for water protection this summer.

While in Merritt, British Columbia yesterday, Caribou Legs met with activists seeking to protect their ancestral land and water from biosolids.

The Vancouver Sun has reported, “Biosolids — the sludge leftover after the sewage treatment process — from the Fraser Valley and Interior is currently being trucked into a facility in Merritt, where it gets applied on land under permission from the regional government. …But some residents have expressed concern that the sludge, which contains heavy metals and pharmaceutical residue, contaminates the land, water, farm animals, food products and marine life. First Nations groups began blockading the road to the facility three months ago, turning away trucks hauling the waste.”

That report adds, “First Nations chiefs from the Nicola Valley say they’ll continue to blockade roads, occupy government offices and use their own indigenous laws to stop sewage sludge from being dumped on land in Merritt. Five First Nation chiefs took their protest to the lawn of the B.C. legislature [on May 25], holding a prayer session over a container of local soil and warning the B.C. government they would escalate a fight against the application of sewage biosolids on Central Okanagan lands.” Shackan Indian Band grand chief Percy Joe says, “We are here to take care of our water.”

This afternoon, while running the 87 kilometres from Merritt to Kamloops, Caribou Legs wrote on his Facebook page, “I learned that Merritt says no to Biosolids dumping! Awesome community activism! You folks rock! A healthy environment brings community together! Thank you Council of Canadians!”

Caribou Legs will be highlighting various local water issues as he runs across the country. His route includes the communities of Salmon Arm, Golden, Calgary, Moose Jaw, Regina, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay and Sudbury. Caribou Legs is expected to arrive at Parliament Hill in Ottawa in mid-September where he will be greeted by Council of Canadians staff and supporters. You can find out more about his run here.

For more on the issue of biosolids in the Merritt area, please see the Facebook page for the Friends of the Nicola Valley here.