Travelling for 15 hours down the wild, untouched Inside Passage, the majestic B.C. coast unfurling with each unhurried nautical mile, Kim Slater's steely resolve only strengthened.
This is it, she thought; this rugged, sacred place where forest meets water, where orcas dive, where eagles soar, this is no place for oil tankers. On her way home, after 49 days on the road running across Northern B.C., galvanized with an idea of raising awareness and conversation about Canada's energy future, Slater knew she was on the right path.
"It was really meaningful to travel the Inside Passage, which would be hit so hard by a spill, to really experience that and witness how it is the most pristine, beautiful, untouched coastline," said Slater, after her return to Whistler this week. "If anything it strengthened my resolve of just how important it is that we keep tankers away. They don't belong. And there's no way that there won't be a spill."
Slater put pen to paper to the Joint Review Panel tasked with looking at the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway project. The deadline to submit is Friday, Aug. 31.
In her submission she wrote of the past 49 days, her summer running across the 1,177 kilometre pipeline's route, running 28 marathons in less than two months, speaking to hundreds of British Columbians. Some she met on the road, others she met at one of the seven planned meetings along the way.
"I didn't really set out to have this be an anti-Enbridge campaign, to set this up as something that was rehashing all of the reasons why this is a bad project," said Slater. "It was really intended to be for something. I was taking a pro-active approach to the creation of an alternative, the creation of a new paradigm that is less reliant on fossil fuels. That's really what framed the conversation — what alternatives are available for us? What does the transition look like to a vision for the future?"
She learned people are concerned just like her. But, more importantly, people were willing to talk, to listen, to brainstorm. And she toured homes off the grid, and saw many low-tech energy options at work.
"There is real case to be optimistic here," she said. "There's a community of people that are out there that you can tap and that you can rely on. We need to work together to find the solutions.
"It becomes a conversation about how do we make our communities more resilient because it's that resiliency that makes these big pipeline proposals less attractive."
The Enbridge Northern Gateways project involves the construction of two pipelines, stretching more than 1,000 kilometres, from Alberta to Kitimat, B.C. One line will carry petroleum products west, to waiting tankers on the coast, the other will carry condensate, used to thin petroleum products for pipeline transport, east.
Slater is now finishing her blog, compiling her photos and her experiences and thinking of ways to share the narrative in a deeper, more meaningful way, as well as finding ways to build the network of people who are interested in moving away from fossil fuels.
"People's generosity and support just blew me away," said Slater. "I was given so much — more than I gave."