Editorial: Let’s co-operate on environment

Hundreds turned out at Beban Park this week to hear David Suzuki speak as part of his Celebrating Coastal Connections tour.

There’s no place like home, there’s no place like our part of the world, and many of us in Nanaimo recognize that.

Hundreds turned out at the Beban Park social centre this week to hear David Suzuki speak as part of his Celebrating Coastal Connections tour. The renowned environmentalist was passing along his familiar messages about the perils of climate change, but with a twist. This time, he’s calling for co-operation among First Nations and non-aboriginal people and solidarity in our way of thinking about how we protect the land.

First Nations cultures, he argues, remember what some of us forget – that the Earth is our home, our shelter and our sustenance, and not simply a resource to be bought, sold and exploited.

We saw an example of a First Nations coastal-connection attitude just this spring, as members of the Lax Kw’alaams community rejected a $1-billion cash offer from Pacific NorthWest LNG in exchange for support of a liquefied natural gas project at the mouth of the Skeena River. There’s something heartening about seeing people refuse to haggle on the environment. Even if we believe in the promise of LNG as an economic boon, we must maintain the right to refuse projects we deem harmful, because someone has to speak for the river.

Here at home, we live on the traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw people, and we share the land, and we share many of the same values. As we live alongside one another, we learn from one another, too, and here’s another opportunity to learn to respect this land.

Suzuki is asking us to celebrate our connections with each other and with the coast we share, and he’s imploring us not to accept climate change, accept defeat or doubt that we can make a difference.

Creating connections is a worthy goal. Because we’re not protecting the environment just for ourselves. We’re also protecting it for each other.