More causes than global warming …


An occupational hazard here is our interest in print media. It remains the basis for our society’s historical record, which makes it fascinating in itself. Print media includes sources we rarely consider, especially from Indigenous communities.

The Crees and the Mohawks have vigourous newspapers (and radio stations), with news we don’t see in the mainstream, and certainly not via social media. Their viewpoints come from perspectives and locations we rarely even consider. They present news insights we often never see.

Take for example our burning forests (and their mini-communities). Mainstream media never tires (as it should never tire) of telling us that global warming is causing these temperature spikes and rainfall aberrations. This summer the Cree bi-weekly, The Nation, has covered the fires, but a little deeper than Meta.

First bit of enlightenment: SOPFEU, Quebec’s fire-fighting agency does not fight all forest fires. SOPFEU ranks fires in terms of their location and the expansiveness of each fire’s threat. This means that all fires are not equal, and almost all fires in the north of our province are labelled, “let’m burn!” They don’t affect “important” communities, infrastructure, and territorial priorities. Fires in the Indigenous-strong areas are allowed to burn until winter (or any serious weather change). Below this line are fires that must be fought — they threaten larger communities’ accesses and resources.

Look further: this line separates resource areas (mines, large forestry ops, etc) … and here’s the Cree point: these resource areas, open pit and regular mines, hydro facilities,  are protected at all costs, while the lives and resources of Native peoples, not so much. The Crees point out that “climate change” is a huge topic —  it implicates the entire planet, all its population, and thus can seem a lost cause. Deliberately changing “the climate” is incredible in its scope.

More importantly, The Nation points to many resource projects as actual causes of the big fires and atmospheric degeneration. Cutting forests for hydro development and to replant commercial breeds of trees, to build roads, air strips, rail tracks — even a new port way up north — clear-cut forestry all leave slash and debris just waiting for a spark … and there are plenty of spark-producing machines at work and workers who pitch their butts out the window. Wasn’t BC’s big Lytton Fire caused by a train work crew? Rather than see these industrial and resource projects as front-line causes of the fires, as well as contributors to global heating, our resources go to protect them, and at the expense of real people living across the north.

Somehow, Big Money has got to stop doing our public talking.

– Fred Ryan