High hopes for Idle No More
Aspen Valley News
Photo by Janalene Kingshott
A volunteer feeds an orphaned raccoon. Every year young raccoons arrive at Aspen after their mothers are killed during local construction projects or tree-cutting.
As an organization whose mandate includes educating people towards a meaningful co-existence with the wildlife around us, there are those of us here at Aspen Valley who hope Attiwapiskat First Nation chief Theresa Spence and the Idle No More movement gather momentum.
Spence and the First Nation founders of the movement rightly insist that Bill C-45, a bill that obliterates an old navigable waters act governing development over any water wide enough and deep enough for a canoe, is an infringement on First Nation rights to protect land.
But as another sign that government will always put short-term economic growth and development first, and the environment a very distant second, it’s an infringement on all of our rights to protect something we should all hold as sacred.
At Aspen, we see first hand the impact any development has on wildlife, with many injured and orphaned animals relegated to our care, many more arriving only to breath their last few breaths. Others come to our care because, as wild forests, wetlands and fields diminish, they are forced into encounters with people.
We are just one environmentally-focused organization, seeing just some of the impacts of constant growth.
And now, with the loss of a definition of navigable waters that at least slowed growth for careful thought and complex approval processes, that growth could potentially run rampant in the form of oil pipelines, mines, quarries and more.
Sometimes big things have to start small. Not just in Canada, but around the world, the environment continues to be relegated as an afterthought.
Year-end articles in national publications here, and in other countries, list numerous examples of how governments made it easier to plow over natural lands.
I hope Theresa Spence and Idle No More, now gathering attention with protests in Texas, Hawaii and New Zealand, are that small start towards a movement that finally forces our legislators and leaders to take the environment seriously.
Here at Aspen Valley, right now it looks like more animals will end up in our care and more species will be fighting to avoid extinction while elected officials look only for economic growth.
That shortsightedness isn’t what we should look for in leadership. In the long run, we’ll pay more for that than we’ll ever make by creating shortcuts to sell our irreplaceable resources.
(These weekly articles are contributed by staff at the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary rehabilitates orphaned and injured wildlife with a mandate to educate the public towards a better understanding of local fauna. Janalene Kingshott is the director of animal care at Aspen.)