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Chilliwack chapter hosts Maude Barlow for talk on water protection

Larry Commodore, a chapter activist and former Soowahlie Chief, introduces the panel last night. Photo by AJ Klein.

The Council of Canadians Chilliwack chapter hosted our national chairperson Maude Barlow for a talk last night on her book Boiling Point: Government Neglect, Corporate Abuse, and Canada’s Water Crisis.

As the gathering began at the G.W. Graham middle-secondary school, Barlow tweeted, “Full house in Chilliwack for town hall on water!”

The promotion for the public forum highlighted, “Join Barlow, Chawathil Elder Patricia John, WaterWealth’s Ian Stephen and Indigenous lawyer Ardith Walkem for a discussion on Canada’s water crisis.”

And late last week, the Chilliwack Times reported, “Blessed with some of the best water in the world, and seemingly a lot of it, Chilliwack still needs to be careful, according to Barlow. ‘Your aquifer, the Sardis-Vedder aquifer, it lies underneath a lot of industry, a lot of suburban development and a lot of farmland’, Barlow told the Times in a telephone interview from her home in Ottawa. ‘I’m also very worried about the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion.’ Then there is Nestlé, and Molson, and corporate agriculture, and the biggest threat to fresh water out there: ‘Our apathy’.”

The chapter has been working to address that apathy by raising concerns about Nestle, the Trans Mountain pipeline and other key issues.

This past September, chapter activists Suzy Coulter and Lynn Douglas distributed information about Nestle’s impacts in the nearby community of Hope. That pamphlet highlighted, “Despite the drought last year and an unusually warm spring this year, bottled water giant Nestlé continues to extract 265 million litres from a well in Hope in Sto:lo Territory. The Province newspaper reported that Nestle’s well draws from the Kawkawa aquifer, which approximately 6,000 nearby residents in Hope rely on. The aquifer is part of the Kawkawa watershed connecting to the Coquihalla River, which in turn is tributary of the Fraser River.”

The chapter has also opposed the Texas-based Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain 890,000 barrel per day tar sands pipeline. The Chilliwack Times has reported, “The Trans Mountain pipeline runs diagonally across the city of Chilliwack from Popkum, running under agricultural land, Kinkora Golf Course, adjacent to residential areas and under First Nations land, two school properties and underneath the Vedder River and the Peach Ponds just east of the rail bridge.” In May 2015, the chapter worked with the WaterWealth Project and other allies to call on Chilliwack city council to reject an $800,000 “community benefits program” offer from Kinder Morgan.

In September the chapter took part in a local rally in solidarity with Standing Rock and in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline; in July they attended the launch of a new Sea Shepherd Conservation Society campaign opposed to farmed salmon; in November 2015 they screened the film “This Changes Everything”; that May they celebrated the defeat of the proposed Aevitas Inc. hazardous waste recycling site that would have been situated less than 200 metres from the Fraser River; that month they also greeted the Wild Salmon Caravan that highlighted the major threats to wild salmon; and in March they organized a screening of “Fractured Land” on World Water Day.

The chapter has also helped to raise funds for a legal challenge against the Northern Gateway pipeline.

Since Boiling Point was published in September, Barlow has spoken about water protection in Ottawa (Sept. 20), Kingston (Sept. 21), Guelph (Sept. 22), Toronto (Sept. 23), Vancouver (Sept. 29), Calgary (Sept. 30),  Belleville (Oct. 3), St. John’s (Oct. 14), Saskatoon (Oct. 18), Peterborough (Nov. 1), Midhurst (Nov. 7), London (Nov. 9), Renfrew (Nov. 17), Sidney (Nov. 20), and now Chilliwack (Nov. 21). Next up is Winnipeg (Nov. 24).

Copies of Boiling Point can be purchased at these book tour events or online through the publisher.