Line In The Sand: Stories from the Northern Gateway, compiled from a broad collection of interviews, essays, and personal testimony shared with our four-person team, will strive to provide a timely and unfiltered glimpse into a development proposal which has, to date, excluded rather than invited commentary, and which has been marred by attempts to silence the very people who would stand to be most impacted by it.
Line In The Sand places a primacy on the first-person perspectives and personal histories of intriguing individuals living directly in the path of the proposed route of the Northern Gateway pipeline, from Bruderheim, Alberta, to Kitimat, British Columbia. This book, which contains input from mayors, construction workers, elders, foresters, First Nations’ leaders, activists, fishermen, loggers, and many others, attempts to situate in an altogether more personal framework an issue which has catalyzed a passionate national debate. By means of compelling, original photographs, intimate analysis, and above all, the testimony of affected Canadians themselves – in their own words and on their own terms – we hope to provide an honest and informed rendering of the human side to the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
Principles and Background
Let's start at the beginning. The title Line In The Sand: Stories from the Northern Gateway reflects our original motivation for pursuing this project. Read on to see how that has informed our approach, as well as how the project has shifted since it's inception.
Within a matter of days after being submitted to the National Energy Board for review in May, 2010, the Northern Gateway had attracted a cacophony of controversy. We quickly noticed a trend: no matter where one turned, discussions surrounding the Northern Gateway seemed to be characterized by a sharp adversarial rhetorical skew. The environment had been pitted against the economy, Albertans were alleged to be fundamentally at-odds with British Columbians, and First Nations' interests had been artificially contrasted with non-First Nations' interests; it was as though a line had been pre-emptively drawn in the sand.
We decided to put those assumptions to the test, by engaging directly with individuals living along the proposed route of the Northern Gateway pipeline. We were primarily interested in understanding whether everyday Canadians perceived the pipeline as an opportunity, or as an affront; whether regional differences in opinion were indeed as stark as it might seem; and whether the understanding of the risks involved with the project differed to any considerable degree between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
And then, with all the comedic timing of a bomb, something happened: Bill C-38 was passed.
Suffice it to say, Bill C-38 contained a great many provisions which modified a huge number of laws. Most important to our project, however, were the changes it made to environmental law. In overwriting the entire Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, Bill C-38 abandoned the requirement for environmental assessment of projects proposed or regulated by the federal government – except if the Minister of Environment specifically designated so. The bill also redefined the term "environmental effects" to include a far narrower range of items, restricted public participation to those deemed by the federal government to be "directly affected" by a project, removed funding for public hearings, and imposed time limits on the public hearing phase of the review process.
If the federal government wasn't willing to consider and listen to all opinions on the Northern Gateway, well, by jove, we were.
In researching and structuring Line In The Sand, we have sought to provide an outlet for the dissemination of rich, nuanced opinions which would not otherwise have been heard. We have tried to treat our interactions with and immersions in the lives of the people we have met along the way as a process of learning, rather than merely an opportunity to collect and document material. In so doing, we have (predictably) come to understand our own positions on the Northern Gateway far better, and we hope that through this book, you may come to better understand yours as well.
Structure and Organization
Line In The Sand: Stories from the Northern Gateway is organized into three distinct sections, each containing a rich and evocative collection of photographs.
- Part I functions as a summary of the range of stories shared with us during our initial travels, beginning with the inception of the project in 2012. A range of interviews and photographic essays spanning the full length of the route will be included, from Bruderheim, Alberta, to Kitimat, British Columbia.
- Part II introduces new developments encountered upon our return to specific communities and follow-up interviews with key individuals. It also contains a more focused targeting of regions of particular interest – namely, Northern and Coastal British Columbia.
- Part III will be composed of interviews, photographic essays, and analyses shared with us immediately following the federal government's final announcement on the fate of the Northern Gateway. This announcement is due by late December, 2013.
What If We Raise More Money Than Needed?
Getting this book finished and into the hands of the public is the primary goal of this funding campaign. But as a four-person, multidisciplinary, and multilingual team, there are plenty of ways that additional funding could be put to use.
1. More travel: As the eleventh hour of deliberations over the fate of the Northern Gateway approaches, the pace of our travels will only increase. Additional funds would allow us to travel to more remote regions, and/or regions inaccessible with standard vehicles (eg. Hartley Bay, Haida Gwaii, or Nimbus Mountain).
2. Documentary: As two of our four-person team are independent film-makers, we continue to record our interviews, and the people and places we encounter along the route. We have amassed a considerable trove of footage which we hope to develop into a short documentary feature. Additional funds would allow us to more adequately cover the costs of equipment rental and insurance, post-production, and could even allow us to hire a graphic designer!
3. Translation: Did we mention we're multilingual? It has always been a dream to produce both an English and French language version of the final book, and additional funds could be used in the costs associated with producing a French translation. Perhaps a Dakelh or Wets'uwet'en version could even be in the cards!
Risks and challenges
There are few associated risks involved with this project, as a large portion of the content of the book has already been gathered and edited.
However, as this is an ongoing, public affair, developments outside of our immediate control could delay us. In particular, there is a risk that, while the federal government's final announcement on the fate Northern Gateway is expected by late 2013, the actual date may be pushed back; this would prevent us from travelling back to communities for our final round of interviews and discussions necessary for the third portion of the book. Should the federal government’s announcement be postponed significantly, we may have to consider adjusting the content and structure of this section.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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