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The Sandpiper

Winter 2012

In this issue... Welcome to the Winter Edition of The Sandpiper 2 Sierra Succeses past year has seen an almost surreal transformation 3 Message from the Director This of Canada to a country where spin subverts integrity Season’s Greetings from and science 4 our Chair … a country that recklessly sacrifices clean air and 5-6 Reading as Activism water for oil 7 Poetry … a country that has lost its moral compass … a country very different from the one most of us want.


It felt at times that we were living in one of Margaret Atwood’s apocalyptic futuristic landscapes!

On November 1st, we launched our annual fall fundraiser, with a goal of raising $40,000... and we are It is times like these that you want to hug your kids, half way there! your parents, and your friends closer.

It is also times like these that we turn to art and writing, to restore our faith in our innate instinct to Make a donation NOW by sending a cheque made out honour natural beauty. Fiction and poetry can also to Sierra Club Canada - Atlantic Canada Chapter allow us to plum the depths of despair (from the safety to: of an armchair!) with the guidance of talented writers Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter who share our fears, but somehow carry on! 1657 Barrington St Suite 137 Please help us keep going & growing in 2013

Halifax, NS B3J 2A1 or call 902.444.3113

Donate online now! Click here to donate via PayPal

So please enjoy this edition of The Sandpiper; along with our regular updates we’ve also included creative works. It comes with our non-fiction promise that things will get better: with your help, we will make sure thy do!

Contributors to this edition of The Sandpiper Gretchen Fitzgerald, Emma Hebb, Karen McCallum, Emily Dodge, Rita Kindl Myers

If you would like to contribute to our next issue, or have any comments or responses to content in this newsletter, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us at: (902) 444-3113

Let’s Celebrate...


Sierra Buddies is wrapping up another successful term in Charlottetown! Sierra Club leader Tony Reddin has led up the Sierra Buddies mentors at Charlottetown Rural High School as they connected with younger children at Spring Park and St. Jeans Elementary Schools to teach them about the concept of the ecological footprint and how they can reduce their footprint and that of their schools and communities. Best quotable quote from Sierra Buddies: “Every little bit helps!” - so true! Thanks to Telus’ Atlantic Community Board for making Sierra Buddies happen this year! We are looking for a volunteer to continue Sierra Buddies in the New Year: if you want to have fun and be inspired by some really creative and energetic youth, please contact us at or call 902-444-3113.

Wild Child

This fall, we have reached out to over 800 children through our partnership with the Halifax Regional School Board’s EXCEL After School Program. Through Wild Child Coordinator, Emily Dodge, children are taken outside to experience, explore and learn to appreciate nature they can find all around them – whether they live in urban, suburban or rural areas of Halifax Regional Municipality. The program has been extremely well received, and EXCEL staff tell us parents are registering their kids just for a chance to do Wild Child! Watch for our Wild Child volunteer training program in the New Year.


We raised alarm about the possibility of fracking waste from Newfoundland being shipped to Nova Scotia as part of the preliminary planning for an oil fracking field off the Port au Port Bay off the West Coast of Newfoundland. We also joined hundreds of other concerned citizens in a march in Fredericton to celebrate the anniversary of the 20,000 signature petition asking Premier Alward to ban fracking.

Gulf Defenders Campaign We have galvanized hundreds of fishermen, tourism operators, and concerned citizens to participate in consultations on oil and gas off Western Newfoundland and joined with fisheries groups to protest the inadequacies of the environmental assessment process being led up by the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board. We have also launched community education events, Keep It Blue, at Fables in Tatamagouche, NS (Thanks for the Warm Welcome!) and have plans for future meetings in Halifax and New Brunswick in the New Year.

Dear all,

Message from the Director

In a Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens paints a portrait of the transformation of selfish and lonely Ebenezer Scrooge into a generous and joyful member of his community. Scrooge is visited by ghosts on Christmas Eve, including that of his dead business partner who warns him of future that awaits him if he continue on with his money-grabbing ways. This visit is followed by visits from the ghost of Christmas past, present, and future. I cannot help but wish that Stephen Harper shared a similar transformation this Christmas Eve so that he could understand, down in his very soul, the damage he is creating now, how it affects him, and his family, and his children’s children for generations to come. One thing I always note when I see or hear Harper, is a lack of joy … he just does not seem to be having much fun. One wonders what the personal toll is for deliberately disavowing the love of nature and community that I truly believe is part of all of us. Barring such divine Dickensian intervention, however, I know we are going to have to work even harder in 2013 to ensure we stop fracking, keep oil rigs out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, protect wildlife, rivers, lakes and oceans, and to get renewables, transit, and efficiency projects going. Aside from my family, what gives me hope at this time is the great work we are part of. Some memorable snapshots from the past year flick through my mind: - the students who had worked so hard on our petition to ban fracking coming to the House for its submission by NS MLA Gary Burrill (two weeks later, the de facto moratorium on fracking in NS was extended) … - enjoying the being trapped behind a wind turbine (energy of the future!) as its was transported on the highway coming home from an incredible press conference in Sydney, Cape Breton, where fishermen and Gulf Defenders Mary Gorman and Trudy Watts stood up against oil (energy of the past!) … - having a very sweet woman coming up to after a talk on protecting water and saying shyly ‘I did not know people like you existed!’ (I was able to reassure her there are many ‘like me’ in Sierra Club!) …. - check-ins with Conservation Chair Fred Winsor talking about how he is shifting the goal posts for protecting fish and fisheries, promoting public transit in St. John’s, and asking tough questions about energy - oh and how he was in the paper or on the radio again this week .... - seeing so many people galvanized to stop almost inexpressibly reckless federal legislation (in the form of the last two omnibus bills) by coming out to rallies, holding house parties and taking up their mighty pens … - meeting Farley and Claire Mowat for the first time and finding them to be welcoming, kind and delightful - but also terrifyingly insightful. Finally, what gives me hope is the fact that our Chapter leadership got together on the shores of the gorgeous Northumberland Strait to re-invigorate our strategies and come up with new ways to tackle the challenges ahead. It was truly rejuvenating to see our members’ commitment to the work of Sierra Club Atlantic and to achieving a vision that is ambitious but grounded. It has also been really cool to see various members take leadership in communication, fundraising, and developing campaigns! No question, 2013 is going to be tough on the Earth, especially in Canada. But I feel, more than ever, we are ready. Plus - unlike Harper (where are those Christmas ghosts when you need them??) - we have joy on our side. As Farley said to me when talking stopping oil drilling at the Old Harry lease in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence (Old Harry being the sailors’ term for the devil ) “the only way to make the devil disappear is to laugh – so let’s have some fun!” With best wishes for clean air, safe water, healthy kids, seas full of fish and forests filled with birds, … and a FUN 2013, Gretchen Fitzgerald Director

Season’s Greeting from our Chair


By Karen


as Activis


Season’s Greetings to My Sierra Club Family! It is with great hope that I write for our last newsletter of the year. This past year has been a tale of perseverance for our chapter, and for 2013 we have great aspirations for renewal. A renewal, which I encourage every member to be involved in. Politically the environmental causes that we hold dear have been under attack, in fact, the very idea of environmental organizations has been called radical. It’s more important than ever to be a voice for the earth, more important than ever to take a look inward at our strengths as a chapter, more important than ever to be strategic going forward. Recognizing this, the members of our executive committee meet in Lorneville, Nova Scotia back in September to discuss the future of our Atlantic Canada Chapter. We thank those of you who filled out the survey that helped inform our discussions. Out of that meeting the executive committee approved a strategic plan and has gotten to work. Within our executive committee (lovingly referred to as the Ex-Comm) we have many different strengths, communications, fundraising, political advocacy, organizational, academia, etc. I would hazard to guess that our executive is simply a microcosm of the strengths we have as a chapter. It can be easy to say, I’m not a campaigner, and forget that our chapter is so much more than campaigns. During my time as the chapter’s volunteer coordinator, I used to say that everyone has something to offer and that there’s a place for everyone at the Atlantic Canada Chapter. It’s something I strongly believe, and with all the gift-giving that consumes this time of year, it’s important to remember that we all have gifts we can give. As a grassroots movement Sierra Club Atlantic is only as strong as its members, what we’ll be going forward is a reflection of our whole family, and our combined strengths. We’re in the midst of our chapter’s annual fundraising campaign, consider asking your friends or family to donate to our chapter in lieu of a gift, or giving gifts of chapter donations to others (it’s the perfect present for that person who has everything!). Going into 2013, think about what your strengths are and how they could help our chapter be a voice for the earth. Imagine if for our New Year’s resolutions we all resolved to do what we can to support our chapter, what a dynamic and vibrant chapter we’ll have! Wishing you all a Joyful Holiday, Emma Hebb Chair, Executive Committee Sierra Club Canada Atlantic Canada Chapter

Canada - our home on native land - and such a vast and rich expanse of land, fresh

water and oceanic coastline it is, too! From sea to sea, it can be hard sometimes to imagine common ground that would be inclusive to all people in all communities, across spectrums of political views, cultural values, and historical realities, but here I wonder what that common ground might be. What do members of the Beaver Lake Cree in Northern BC, student populations in Hamilton, ON, and Sierra Club Atlantic members in NS, NB, PEI, and Newfoundland and Labrador have in common?

If nothing else at all, we share the common experience of living under the governmental authority of a nation-state that is invested in running the national economy off of the extraction of natural resources (such as natural gas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, crude oil from Alberta’s Tar Sands, Diamond mining in Northern Ontario and many other cases), made possible through seizure and exploitation of tracts of largely unceded Indigenous land. Across the country, people from all walks of life are fighting to keep mining and extraction from dominating when it comes to Canada’s long-term economic and energy future. It pains so many of us to know that in our name, Canada signs international trade deals with China and the U.S., approves the activities of extraction companies domestically and internationally (see Goldcorp in Guatemala among others) without the consent of affected communities, pretends to ensure consultation but never takes seriously the concerns that residents raise, and flatly denies First Nations’ claims of sovereign right to determine what takes place on their territories. In BC, non-Indigenous and First Nations peoples are working hard to prevent the Northern Gateway Pipeline from being built and to keep tankers off the West Coast. These actions are founded in fears for the health and viability of coastal communities and natural environments for generations to come. Just as members of Sierra Club Atlantic understand that the possibility and even the likelihood of a major oil spill from extraction and distribution activities in the Gulf gambles with invaluable resources and lives, residents and concerned residents of Kitimat, and those of many coastal and interior communities, including urbanites from Prince George, Vancouver, Victoria recognize coastal areas to be vital and nonnegotiable natural resources. Without our coastal health, what are we? Who are we? con’d on next page


In a country so defined by salty and fresh water, and historically tied to trans-Pacific and trans-Atlantic histories, many of us settler people whose ancestors came from across oceans to be here, and people for whom the water is a source of food, spiritual and cultural importance- who among us would have the audacity to gamble our lives and histories away? This common history of resource exploitation, and of immigration and colonization is part of our Canadian heritage. These legacies may not be what many of us are proud of, but they define the terms of how our country has come to be and where we might go in the future. To understand what our alternatives are, I propose a winter reading list full of Canadian authors and Canadian histories, whether historical fictions, autobiographies, or non-fiction accounts. There is so much to be gleaned by exploring our shared and divergent cultures. In the face of a strange yet powerful discourse that says Canada has no culture at all, I urge Sandpiper readers to turn our collective attention to who and what Canada is, in order that we begin to imagine it differently. This is a project that works forwards from the work of Canadian and First Nations writers, journalists, activists, thinkers, academics and community workers, and I assert that to imagine justice for Canada, we must first do justice to those who have come before and learn from what they have to say, or- what they write! I urge all of us to consider reading to be a form of activism, to consider self-education as a subversive and powerful act. I ask us to frame knowledge and our imaginations as tools with which we can build the nations of our dreams. Finally, I ask you to imagine this education as a foray into Canadian culture and to find, in the words and ideas of people who likewise share the legacy and burden of being Canadian residents, reasons to be proud and the motivation to work for a better Canada.

“A Sky so Blue” By Emily Dodge

I’d never seen a sky so blue, so fierce and unabashed in its boldness. So saturated it seemed as if it could drip out of itself and onto the trembling leaves below, anxious for any bit of color as fall breezes drank their own shades away. . . . . . . . . The crows seemed especially active today.

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The Sandpiper Winter 2012-2013  

The Winter 2012-2013 newsletter of Sierra Club Canada - Atlantic Canada Chapter. This edition focuses on creative writing and also contains...