Two reasons to celebrate

This week, we give thanks to all our newest members. Plus, northwest B.C. reporter Matt Simmons reflects on a trip to Gitanyow territory for a very special occasion
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“The Narwhal is taking a key role in holding the Ford government to account for the Greenbelt scandal.”

“I believe the type of environmental journalism The Narwhal is doing is essential for our future.” 


We are overwhelmed with all the kind words from the newest members of The Narwhal. Fifty-one of you just joined because the investigative work of our Ontario bureau played a role in the resignations of the province’s housing minister and his chief of staff. It’s the kind of impact we’re still reeling from (with lots of follow-up stories to come). 

This type of reporting takes so much time and resources — and it wouldn’t be remotely possible without the thousands of extraordinary people who donate whatever they can to support The Narwhal’s independent, non-profit journalism.

We’ve got just 49 copies of our beautiful 2023 print magazine left: become a Narwhal today to guarantee yourself one before they’re gone for good!
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Now, over to this week’s newsletter …

It all came together in a matter of days: northwest B.C. reporter Matt Simmons barely had time to do his laundry from another work trip when it was time to head to Gitanyow lax’yip (territory) for a very special celebration.

In 2021, tired of waiting on the B.C. government, Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs took the big step of declaring 54,000 hectares of land and water protected. Now, 150 people were gathering to mark the second anniversary with a salmon feast — an opportunity to celebrate the return of a species whose decline had literally spawned the creation of the Wilp Wii Litsxw Meziadin Indigenous Protected Area.

“Two years later, going back up there, you could feel the difference,” Matt told me. “It was like, ‘We are standing up and we are doing this — and it’s working.’ ”
Reporter Matt Simmons and his son George paddling on Meziadin Lake
“It’s a beautiful place,” Matt told me, reflecting back on the Gitanyow reporting trip he took with his son, George, in tow. Here they are paddling on T’ax Mats’iiaadin (Meziadin Lake).
That’s not to say there aren’t still hurdles: B.C. has yet to officially acknowledge the area, though this time, unlike in 2021, there were provincial staff present for the celebration. And there are now ongoing conversations between the Gitanyow and the province. Still, questions remain about what the government will do about the mineral tenures that dot the protected area.

For Naxginkw, Tara Marsden, a Gitanyow member who has worked with the chiefs for many years, those tenures highlight the need to strengthen relationships with private companies.

“There are companies that are not listening to us or not respecting us,” Marsden said. “So we need to acknowledge and shine a light on those people who are doing the good thing, who are respecting the environment and respecting Indigenous Rights.”
Gitanyow community members celebrate protection of vital salmon habitat in 2023
Those tensions — between what industry wants to extract, what colonial governments legislate and the decisions of First Nations whose land is directly affected — are playing out right now in the B.C. Supreme Court.

More than a decade ago, the Haida Gwaii Management Council decided to protect old-growth forests on their treasured island, in turn preventing Teal-Jones from logging them. Now, Teal Cedar Products Ltd., a division of the logging company, is suing for $75 million.

The case will see the court decide ​​who pays when conservation cuts into corporate profit — and the outcome could have huge consequences for what happens in other parts of B.C. or Canada.

As Estair Van Wagner, an an associate law professor at York University, told writer Arno Kopecky: “At the core of the real public interest here, is what happens when there are conflicts between these big important movements we’re making as a society, and that governments make on our behalf towards reconciliation — what happens when those kinds of efforts clash with private interests?”

Arno, Matt and the rest of our team will be watching closely — on Haida Gwaii, Gitanyow territory and beyond.

Take care and celebrate when you can,

Arik Ligeti
Director of audience

An Image of Jane Goodall, with text that says: An evening with Jane Goodall. Oct. 12, 2023, Meridian Hall, Toronto. Logo of the Jane Goodall Institute Canada and media partner The Narwhal.

From student to stage

It’s not every day you get to sit down and talk with the beloved Jane Goodall. Her conservation work — spanning the entire globe — has charted a path that shows what kind of wonders hope and motivation can do in the face of environmental adversity.

Reporter Fatima Syed remembers an inspiring lesson on the best way to learn about the world from her grade 7 history teacher: to observe, and observe closely. “Have any of you heard of Jane Goodall?” she asked Fatima’s class, recounting how the legendary biologist had spent years living in a Tanzanian forest closely observing chimpanzees and understanding the human world through them. That year, Fatima crafted a hand-drawn book about the Amazon Rainforest; Jane had become a role model.

So, when we told Fatima she’d be chatting on stage with one of the world’s best known conservationists, it was met with a bit of disbelief and a whole lotta questions: WOAH. Wait a minute. Is this real? I get to chat with … the Jane Goodall? What???

“Holding onto hope back then,” Fatima said, “that I could one day understand our lives from the trees and animals in the Amazon, didn’t seem so distant after learning about Jane and her mission.”

Come join Fatima for a conversation with Jane Goodall on Oct. 12 at Toronto’s Meridian Hall — a very special evening presented by the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada.

Tickets are nearly sold out, so go get yours before it’s too late!


This week in The Narwhal

A bird flies past two looming dark round towers set against a cloudy sky.
More than 90% of Saskatchewan’s heavy oil sites don’t measure pollution: scientist
By Carl Meyer
Getting industrial methane under control is critical in the climate fight. The federal government says proposed new methane rules are in the works — and expected ‘later this fall.’

Photo of Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario
What does a ‘review’ of Ontario’s Greenbelt mean for the environment? 
By Emma McIntosh, Fatima Syed & Denise Balkissoon
Manitoba power lines stretch to the horizon
Manitoba election 2023: A guide to what leaders are (and aren’t) promising on climate
By Julia-Simone Rutgers

What we’re reading

For The Globe and Mail, Marissa Tiel documents how staff at a wildlife park in Kamloops, B.C., got creative to keep animals cool in a summer of extreme heat.

Grist has a guide for you to stay safe and keep cool: check out Extreme Heat 101.

CBC’s Benjamin Shingler explores why Canada’s forests may be a sign of a climate tipping point, becoming net-emitters of carbon as they were razed by wildfires this summer.

Wanna know what the world you’ve inherited looks like, temperature-wise, as compared to other generations? Jaela Bernstien and Naël Shiab make it easy for you to figure out in this interactive CBC feature.
When we give you a story about the environment that makes you want to celebrate. Tell your friends to sign up for our free, weekly newsletter so they can tune into the good vibes.
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