This summer, the iLCP, a group of internationally renowned photographers are taking part in a RAVE (Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition) in British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest. Home to white spirit bears, ancient forests, and stunning marine biodiversity, it is one of the planet's most priceless treasures, but overseas oil interests wanting access to western Canada's tar sands, the second largest known oil reserves in the world, have put the region in threat, prompting the action of conservation groups and the iLCP. Throughout the expedition we'll be bringing you profiles, stories, statistics and photos to learn more about the region and why it's so crucial that we all work to protect it. Please follow along here on the iLCP blog, on Facebook and Twitter.
The other day, the pastor of the Mountainview Alliance Church in Kitimat, B.C. was talking to a friend: I do want this Enbridge pipeline to succeed," he said. " I like business to succeed. But then a little bell goes off in the back of my head… What about the Gulf oil spill? What if something like that happens here?"
The Calgary-based Enbridge Corp. backed by a bunch of oil companies hopes to build a massive pipeline to carry oil from the Alberta tar sands to Kitimat. From there, the oil will be transported by super tankers to Asian markets. That would mean about 200 massive oil tankers per year traveling the coastal waters off British Columbia. It would also mean much-needed jobs and an economic lifeline for some desperate communities. Not surprisingly, communities are divided.
BC First Nations, environmentalists and BC Municipalities have all voiced their opposition to the proposal, with the community of Hartley Bay leading the pack.
Helen Clifton of the Git'gat people voiced her fear over what will happen if supertankers infiltrate their waters, "Tankers are one football field wide and three football fields long. If it was to come to a complete stop, it would take 18 miles." She said that tankers will surely disrupt wildlife and crush their fishing community. "What is going to be left for my great grandchildren, and those yet unborn? Will there be a Hartley Bay when they're adults? We're a people of the sea. We cannot exist as a people"
iLCP photographer Daniel Beltra shares her concern, "There's always human error. There are always mistakes made. Then you get big accidents."
And Daniel should know. He spent more than a month photographing the Gulf oil spill and said said that clean-up efforts seemed almost ridiculous because of the massive spill. It made him think of trying to clean up an "oil-filled Olymic swimming pool with Q-tips."
Returning to what the pastor said, "But then a little bell goes off in the back of my head… What about the Gulf oil spill? What if something like that happens here?"
Listen to the CBC News Sunday Edition here. Note: The Great Bear RAVE story begins about one-third of the way into the podcast.
Take action to protect Great Bear here.