This week I’ve been travelling in the lower Saint John river region of New Brunswick (South central region) with Ben Gotschall, rancher and pipeline activist from Nebraska, Alma Brooks, Maliseet elder of the Wolastoq Grand Council and Mark D’Arcy, the Council of Canadians NB Energy East campaigner.
Tonight’s townhall in Hampton was great. Speakers are in their groove, attendance is good (25 people in a community of 5000), and the questions and discussion was very informative for participants (many of whom already seemed to have a good understanding of the pipeline).
[We have already done townhalls in Chipman and Belleisle. More information from these can be found on twitter: @angiles or #2RiskEE.]
While the townhalls have been the focus of the tour, the highlight so far for me has been meeting farmers and landowners along the route, and painting #HarmonyProject art installations along the way. To date, with landowners’ permission, we have painted 3 art installations:
– On a landowner’s property at the proposed site of the Cumberland Bay pumping station;
– On Belleisle dairy farmer Bob Pierson’s land; and
– At the Webster’s homestead which is the proposed location of the Hampton pumping station (photo).
This area is small ‘c’ conservative and people here are used to living under corporate control in Irving-dominated territory. They’re used to depending on a large corporation for their livelihood, and for that livelihood to be threatened if you dare to speak out against anything in their corporate interests. They’re used to therefore being silenced and scared to share their opinion for fear they or their family members lose their jobs in Irving or affiliated industries. So I am very happy these individuals have been willing to take part.
To date, meetings with Fire Chiefs and Town of Hampton staff and a Councillor (and participants at the townhalls and in the communities as well) highlighted that the industry message is being heard loud and clear: Pipelines are safer than rail (and rail would decrease of course if the pipeline gets built), the jobs that will be created will make it worthwhile, everyone supports the pipeline, and overall there is nothing they can do to stop it.
The timing of the tour and our speakers’ ability to address the safety record of TransCanada and debunk these myths has been important. TransCanada’s final application to the NEB was submitted last month and despite being absent for the past 6 months or so, we expect their representatives to make more appearances across the province and on the doorsteps of landowners along the route soon.
Thank you to Council of Canadians supporters who allow us to do this type of important work at a grassroots level. <3