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Death by a thousand cuts: a comic

A story of hope and resilience from the Dane-zaa people living in what is now known as northeastern British Columbia

The last 50 years have seen the traditional territory of the Dane-zaa, now the homeland of the modern Blueberry River and Doig River First Nations, transformed beyond recognition.

By 2016 more than 110,000 kilometres of roads, pipelines and transmission and seismic lines had been cut across 40,000 square kilometres of land. The collective sum of this environmental devastation has been likened to a “death by a thousand cuts.”

Blueberry River Traditional Territory

The traditional territory of the Blueberry River First Nations overlaps with the Montney formation, one of the largest deposits of natural gas on the planet. Illustration: Carol Linnitt / The Narwhal

Out of desperation, Blueberry River continues to seek protection for the last few intact wilderness areas in court, claiming that their treaty with Canada, signed in 1900 in reaction to the depredations of the Klondike gold rush, has been breached.

The following nonfiction comic was more than a year in the making, and is published now as a court case brought by Blueberry River continues to wind through B.C. Supreme Court with a potentially precedent-setting decision coming in 2020.

Special thanks to the Uncharted Journalism Fund, Robin Ridington and Jeffrey Ellis. Written by Blueberry River First Nations and Christopher Pollon. Pencils by Daniel Lafrance. Inks by Kelly Chen. Production by Carol Linnitt and The Narwhal.

Blueberry River First NationBlueberry River First NationBlueberry River First NationBlueberry River First NationBlueberry River First Nation

We hear it time and time again:
“These are the stories that need to be told and you are some of the only ones telling them,” John, a new member of The Narwhal, wrote in to say.

Investigating stories others aren’t. Diving deep to find solutions to the climate crisis. Sending journalists to report from remote locations for days and sometimes weeks on end. These are the core tenets of what we do here at The Narwhal. It’s also the kind of work that takes time and resources to pull off.

That might sound obvious, but it’s far from reality in many shrinking and cash-strapped Canadian newsrooms. So what’s The Narwhal’s secret sauce? Thousands of members like John who support our non-profit, ad-free journalism by giving whatever they can afford each month (or year).

But here’s the thing: just two per cent of The Narwhal’s readers step up to keep our stories free for all to read. Will you join the two per cent and become a member of The Narwhal today?
We hear it time and time again:
“These are the stories that need to be told and you are some of the only ones telling them,” John, a new member of The Narwhal, wrote in to say.

Investigating stories others aren’t. Diving deep to find solutions to the climate crisis. Sending journalists to report from remote locations for days and sometimes weeks on end. These are the core tenets of what we do here at The Narwhal. It’s also the kind of work that takes time and resources to pull off.

That might sound obvious, but it’s far from reality in many shrinking and cash-strapped Canadian newsrooms. So what’s The Narwhal’s secret sauce? Thousands of members like John who support our non-profit, ad-free journalism by giving whatever they can afford each month (or year).

But here’s the thing: just two per cent of The Narwhal’s readers step up to keep our stories free for all to read. Will you join the two per cent and become a member of The Narwhal today?

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