Renowned environmental activist David Suzuki was in Kitimat yesterday, as part of the David Suzuki Foundation’s Coastal Connections Tour.
The tour will visit twelve communities in twelve days to hear the issues that concern them, and what programs the foundation can design to meet those concerns.He says many First Nations are now at the environmental forefront of the environmental movement, leading battles against fracking, protection of boreal forests, and fights against the tar sands.
Suzuki says the rest of Canada has been reluctantly dragged into recognizing First Nations rights and title, and that the courts played a big role in forcing that recognition.
He says part of that recognition means First Nations consultation is now actually meaningful and effective, even if it’s grudging.
Commenting on the debate within First Nations communities over whether or not to support resource resource extraction, Suzuki says First Nations communities should benefit, but it’s a tough question as many of these communities are forced to choose between poverty or environmental degradation.
He says there are many good First Nations led projects taking place, and what bothers him is that there’s not enough communication about them, and the economic benefits they bring.
He cites the wind farm at Cape Scott that can power 45,000 homes, and the economic viability of on-land salmon farms as good news stories that aren’t getting enough attention.Suzuki’s latest book, Letters to my Grandchildren, was also recently published.
He says he’s now in what he calls the “death-zone,” and citing his own missed opportunity to ask his grandparents questions, he didn’t want his own grandchildren to have questions about their grandfather, and ultimately questions about their own identity and history.
Suzuki will be Prince Rupert tonight, then he’s off to Haida Gwaii for the last two days of the tour.
More information about the tour can be found here.