There are two major preventable threats to the spirit bear: an urgent need for a meaningful sanctuary in their last intact ecosystem and the long term concern of oil spills from tanker traffic in the waters within this wilderness.
While the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition is helping lead the campaign to establish a sanctuary for the spirit bear that includes conserving the final unprotected third of its critical habitat and ensuring that bears within the region are protected from trophy hunting, partner organizations – Pacific Wild, Dogwood Initiative, and Coastal First Nations – are working hard to address the long term threat to both the spirit bear and the Great Bear Rainforest as a whole: proposed oil tanker traffic.
And we need your help to inform decision makers that the proposed Enbridge pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands to the BC coast is one that can be easily resolved: shift the route.
The Spirit Bear Youth Coalition is not against economic growth for Canada.
And the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition doesn’t seek to shut down Canada’s oil sands (this is simply not a debate the Youth Coalition is engaged in; it is one where all parties must work together to find innovative opportunities to improve the oil sands’ environmental impact without taking away from its role in the Canadian economy).
In fact, the Youth Coalition isn’t even against the Enbridge pipeline. We favour an existing oil pipeline-tanker route, one that would not see tanker traffic traverse some of the most dangerous and ecologically important waters on Canada’s west coast.
With an existing pipeline from Alberta to Vancouver and ongoing tanker traffic being routed from the Port of Vancouver to points overseas, there is a safe, economically viable alternative to building a new pipeline to the community of Kitimat, BC. After all, why build new, costly infrastructure when an existing, workable system already exists.
If the Enbridge pipeline in its current form is given the green light, tanker traffic will begin moving oil from Kitimat, past the spirit bear’s key habitat on Gribbell Island and Princess Royal Island, to China.
There is no question that Enbridge has the best of intentions with its project and will do its utmost to prevent any possible spills from its tanker traffic in this sensitive ecosystem.
But even the best of intentions can fall victim to human error.
If the Exxon Valdez tanker-caused oil spill in Alaska or the BP oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico taught us anything, it’s that unthinkable accidents happen and, when they do, the consequences can be both devastating and beyond repair.
Two major shipping accidents have happened in recent years in the narrow passages surrounding the spirit bear’s habitat – the same exact waters Enbridge oil tankers will travel.
Given the spirit bear’s dependence on its marine ecosystem – salmon, the region’s lifeblood, especially – any oil spill will almost certainly wipe out the genetically unique subspecies.
And when speaking of the very last opportunity to safeguard a bear worth its weight, both ecologically and economically, in gold, oil tankers in the land of the spirit bear simply are not worth the risk.
As global citizens, we all have a stake in the future of this wilderness that supports not only the spirit bear, but our planet – it is a region with more life per square inch than the tropical rainforest in Brazil, is the last large area of intact temperate rainforest on Earth and is one of the most important carbon sinks in the world.
Your voice must be heard in this debate and we need everyone to work with Canada to find a reasonable balance that creates jobs, increases the nation’s economic potential, and protects a bear far to important to the world to lose.
Help the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition articulate our balanced position. Pipeline and oil exports: YES. Pipeline and oil exports within the land of the spirit bear: NO.
Together, we can create a better economic future for Canada and, together, we can save the spirit bear for generations to come.
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