Lifestyle

People making changes theme of ‘13

Jack Emberly is a retired and environmentalist. - The News/Files
Jack Emberly is a retired and environmentalist.
— image credit: The News/Files

There are reasons to be turned off today’s politics – from fraudulent robocalls, to omnibus bills, and endless attack ads. But instead of tuning it out, we’re seeing  people searching for ways to make a difference.

Leadnow.ca is a movement to restore citizen participation in decisions that affect an environment after the federal government’s policy of responsible resource development.’ It screened backroom changes to laws that protected watersheds, fish and habitat.

Leadnow says the people will resist assaults on the environment by government, or corporations. In 2013, I noted some doing their part.

In December, John Kelly, a retired advisor for B.C. Hydro, drew public attention to right-of-way clearing practices on the Interior-to-Lower Mainland line, where it passes through the UBC Malcolm Knapp Research Forest. It was follow-up to an earlier complaint by ARMS president Geoff Clayton. Hydro dropped and left trees on the banks of the Alouette River in February.

Months later, Kelly and forester Cheryl Powers complained Hydro machinery damaged Millionaire Creek in the research forest in June. But in November, Hydro still hadn’t fixed the problem, even though coho spawned downstream.

Also in December, I told you about Scott Magri’s determination to turn back time for Katzie Slough, a channel that connects the Fraser River at Hammond to the Pitt River near the bridge. It was the centre of Katzie life and culture before it became an irrigation ditch. Many people remember a waterway that supported all forms of wildlife. They canoed on it, walked along its banks, swam in it. Magri caught coho and cutthroat trout in the slough as a boy. As much as possible, he wants to restore the slough. We could show visitors an example of a community that respects and works with nature. All that’s needed is water flowing the way it used to, and pumps that don’t grind up fish as they enter and exit. Of course, vision and will power are needed.

So far, the city hasn’t demonstrated it has either. Yet, others share Magri’s vision and want to make it a reality.

In October, I told you about a doctor who died too soon. Clarence Fernandes left hundreds of admirers, the patients he cheered with laughter and good will while ministering to their physical ailments. Medicine and the pharmaceutical industry are all about money today, but there are many compassionate doctor’s here whose practice still reflects traditional community values.

In November, I met a young German woman who left a secure job for peace of mind and a sense of purpose. Anna Fieberg was a WOOFER, (willing worker on organic farms). She learned to grow food without damaging the earth. Fieberg was a social worker who struggled in vain under a system that didn’t provide the time to work with clients. Instead of giving up her passion to help others, Fieberg changed herself. She plans to use horticulture as therapy for folks with mental difficulties.

In September, GETI Fest – Golden Ears Transition Initiative – showcased young people that enrich life in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. Our youth are involved in many community building projects. Last year, high school students became a part of GETI as a youth coalition that we will hear more of in 2014.

Last January, the Idle No More Movement was born out of frustration with unproductive talks over First Nations treaty rights. It was overdue considering Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s pro-industry rewording of the Fisheries Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Mining Act, which now determined some  Schedule 2 lakes could be used to contain mining effluent. The writing on the wall was that the Enbridge pipeline proposal would be approved. Whether it goes ahead  – despite the review panel’s rubber stamp – is yet to be seen.

First Nations determination to stop it in the courts or on the land could turn the tables yet.

“Water is life for our people,” they wrote into their 2012 “Save the Fraser Declaration.” It was signed by 100 indigenous nations determined to make change happen. They warned they wouldn’t allow fish, animals and people to be exposed to an Enbridge oil spill.

People making changes was the theme of 2013.

 

Jack Emberly is a retired teacher, local author and environmentalist.

 

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