Site C construction. Peace River. B.C.

We are speechless: thanks for your support in these tough times

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, 185 readers stepped up over the course of a week to join us as monthly members

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We are speechless. Over the past week, 185 of you stepped up to join us as monthly members. In tough times, 185 readers contributed to our most successful membership drive in The Narwhal’s history. We couldn’t be more grateful for your support.

And because of our dear readers, The Narwhal keeps on growing. Our pod expanded by three this week as we welcome Senior Editor Raina Delisle and reporters Natalia Balcerzak and Julien Gignac. Natalia is based in Terrace, covering Northwestern B.C., while Julien is reporting on Yukon from Whitehorse. Stay tuned for more juicy details on our new team members, plus plenty more in-depth journalism.

In last week’s newsletter, we told you about how mining and pipeline work wasn’t being put on hold despite other strict government measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Now, you can add Site C dam construction to the list of B.C. projects facing calls to shut down operations.

Everyone from local officials to the former chief medical officer for Northern Health is sounding the alarm about Site C, Sarah Cox reports. Even with enhanced protections, work camps face the same impossible containment obstacles as cruise ships, ex-chief medical officer David Bowering told The Narwhal.

“The last thing that seems to me [to be] reasonable is to have large work camps — that we know will be sources of infection both within themselves and in the local communities, and in the home communities of the workers when they go back.”

And just as existing operations continue, so are efforts to launch consultations on new resource projects. The Skeetchestn Indian Band received about 30 referrals from industry and the provincial government between March 9 and March 23, Stephanie Wood reports. That’s despite the fact the band office shut its doors and reduced services to focus on the community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the B.C. government says it has put in place interim guidelines for consultation during the crisis, some say more needs to be done to fix an “out of hand” process that was already overwhelming First Nations across the province.

Thanks for reading. We hope you are staying healthy and safe.

Arik Ligeti
Audience Engagement Editor

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B.C. First Nation ‘flooded’ with resource project referrals from industry, province amid coronavirus lockdownInterfor's lumberyard

By Stephanie Wood

New temporary guidelines released by the province aim to ensure consultations with Indigenous communities — often under-resourced and overburdened during the project assessment and consultation phase — are conducted ‘in an appropriate manner’ during the pandemic. Read more.

Former chief medical officer urges B.C. to shut industrial work camps during coronavirus pandemicConstruction Site C Dam

By Sarah Cox

Some projects still house more than 800 people at camps — deemed ‘essential services’ by the province — while small businesses shut their doors and most people stay at home, raising concerns about double-standards and risks to local communities. Read more.

‘Send everybody home’: potential coronavirus outbreak at Site C dam a threat to Fort St. John, local officials saySite C Work Camp

By Sarah Cox

With BC Hydro reporting 12 workers with flu-like symptoms, city councillors, First Nations chiefs and local community members are calling for an immediate suspension of work on the project. Read more.

Self-isolation reading: stories of people and communities making a differenceRobbie Porter Kaska Dene guide

By Arik Ligeti

Need a break from coronavirus news? These are some of our favourite Narwhal pieces from the past year. Read more.

What we’re reading

Note from a Narwhal

“Thank you for shining a clear and just light on the torrent of terrifying issues we, as Canadians, face in this unsettling time. We need more Narwhals!” Thanks so much, Karey. If you believe in what we do, please join Karey and 184 other new Narwhals by becoming a member today.

There’s no such thing as too many pancakes when you’re holed up at home. Wash your hands and send this newsletter signup link to your carb-filled friends.

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You’ve read all the way to the bottom of this article. That makes you some serious Narwhal material.

And since you’re here, we have a favour to ask. Our independent, ad-free journalism is made possible because the people who value our work also support it (did we mention our stories are free for all to read, not just those who can afford to pay?).

As a non-profit, reader-funded news organization, our goal isn’t to sell advertising or to please corporate bigwigs — it’s to bring evidence-based news and analysis to the surface for all Canadians. And at a time when most news organizations have been laying off reporters, we’ve hired eight journalists over the past year.

Not only are we filling a void in environment coverage, but we’re also telling stories differently — by centring Indigenous voices, by building community and by doing it all as a people-powered, non-profit outlet supported by more than 2,500 members

The truth is we wouldn’t be here without you. Every single one of you who reads and shares our articles is a crucial part of building a new model for Canadian journalism that puts people before profit.

We know that these days the world’s problems can feel a *touch* overwhelming. It’s easy to feel like what we do doesn’t make any difference, but becoming a member of The Narwhal is one small way you truly can make a difference.

We’ve drafted a plan to make 2021 our biggest year yet, but we need your support to make it all happen.

If you believe news organizations should report to their readers, not advertisers or shareholders, please become a monthly member of The Narwhal today for any amount you can afford.

Arik Ligeti is The Narwhal’s audience engagement editor, with a focus on growing a dedicated community of members and readers.…

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