The Kootenay to Kitimat caravan arrives at its destination today. Four men, who call themselves the “geezer gang”, left Nelson July 15 in their Dodge Caravan heading for the northwest to show their opposition to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project. The Douglas Channel Watch committee hosted a reception for their Kootenay friends at the City Centre Mall parking lot Tuesday afternoon.
Keith Wiley, caravan organizer, presented a folder containing 500 signatures of Kootenay residents who oppose the pipeline. Wiley says he’s amazed by the support they’ve received along the way.
“We got a lot of people who are opposed to the pipeline and they’ve been saying they’re really happy we’re able to take this message up, and they say ‘tell them for us, we are opposed to the pipeline too’,” said Wiley, adding “the response has been overwhelming… people saying it’s good to carry a message up north.”
The caravan idea was started as nothing more than an idea on facebook and has blossomed into bringing pipeline awareness to thousands.
“There were a number of people here in the Kootenays that were concerned about the Enbridge pipeline and its environmental impacts. We had some big public events and people were compelled to do something more,” said Wiley.
“The idea actually popped up on facebook; someone said “why don’t we actually go and follow the pipeline route.”
Wiley and his crew had talked about the caravan idea for a couple months and finally the four of them were able to pull it off. Many people that had hoped to go on the caravan due to work, summer vacations, family commitments and other reasons were unable to make the trek.
“Initially we had a lot of people said they wanted to go, but when it came down to 10 days of hard slogging there was only four of us that actualy made the trip,” says Wiley. “We have support from thousands of people that want us to bring the message here that the people on the pipeline route should not feel alone, there are a lot of people in BC concerned about this pipeline and want it stopped.”
The Geezer Gang, a quartet of retired Nelson and area men, began their journey in Nelson with stops in Castlegar, Grand Forks, Kelowna, Kamloops, 100 Mile House, Williams Lake, Prince George, Fort St. James, Burns Lake, Fort Fraser, Hazelton, Smithers,
The caravan also ran into NDP leader Adrian Dix will in Williams Lake.
“Adrian Dix spoke to us and he said he thought all these small efforts to raise awareness to the dangers of the Enbridge pipeline are a great thing so it was wonderful to hear him commit to stopping the pipeline as well,” said Wiley.
Coming all the way diagonally across the province was a great show of solidarity. Wiley mentions that although the pipeline does not come near his hometown of Nelson there were many reasons why he and other Kootenay residents were concerned.
“There’s a number of reasons, just because we’re in the middle of the interior doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate the bounty and the beauty of the sea and the coastline, we all love to visit,” said Wiley. “We are very aware that one big tanker break-up can cause a huge disaster to our coast and we can’t stand by and let that happen.”
Wiley also described all the bizarre weather the province has been experiencing this past month only will increase the chance of a future spill.
“We keep having these major weather events thoughout the province lately, windstorms, flooding, and so on which only adds more worry,” says Wiley.
The group plans to drive back to Nelson tomorrow with a few brief stops along the way. They plan to hold some information sessions in some of the smaller communities that they didn’t stop at on the way up.