Houston, we have a problem

Houston, we have a problem r1 ... BECOME A MEMBER The Narwhal's masthead logo A man, toddler and dog who were rescued by a volunteer in a boat after being stranded by high water due to flooding walk on high ground, in Abbotsford, B.C., on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021.
More than 17,000 people displaced, at least one death, roads caved in, homes and farms destroyed and the drowning of thousands of animals. B.C.’s latest climate disaster hit this week, with floods and mudslides sending the province into yet another state of emergency just months after the heat dome and wildfires.

One through-line in both the floods and the fires? Our forests and tree canopies. Not only can they help keep the temperature down, but they can also act as a refuge for wildlife and a sponge for water.

“Without question, the removal of forests both increases the frequency of landslides and frequency of flooding,” Kim Green, a watershed geoscientist and hydrologist, told reporter Judith Lavoie. “You take off the trees, you end up with more water in your soil and you get those slides.”

One solution, experts say, would be to limit clearcut logging or put a halt to the practice altogether in favour of partial harvesting. Others are calling for a climate risk test for all logging proposals.

Yet even as the province takes emergency measures and calls in the help of Canada’s armed forces, B.C. is investing enormous resources in another crisis entirely.
Land defenders fortify a blockade near the Wedzin Kwa (Morice) River.
RCMP officers have been deployed to Gidimt’en clan territory near Houston, B.C., with arrests of Wet’suwet’en land defenders and supporters underway.

Tensions escalated on Sunday, when land defenders began to enforce an eviction order against Coastal GasLink, seizing a company bulldozer and dismantling parts of a forest service road in an effort to prevent drilling under a river.

Photographer Amber Bracken is on the ground for The Narwhal documenting the unfolding situation, which escalated on Sunday when hereditary chiefs gave notice to the roughly 500 pipeline project workers and subcontractors to leave area worksites. Only a handful departed.

“We were sending a clear message to the province, to Canada, and they weren’t acting on it — they weren’t hearing what we were saying — so we had to get a little bit louder,” Gidimt’en camp spokesperson Sleydo’ Molly Wickham told reporter Matt Simmons. “They’re destroying absolutely everything that is important to us in our territory. And they have been continuing to do work, despite the eviction order last year.”
Sleydo' Molly Wickham of Cas Yikh house, Gidimt'en clan Wickham monitors radio communications early Thursday morning as RCMP units began making arrests. Photo: Amber Bracken / The Narwhal The initial eviction order, you might recall, came in January of 2020 — one piece of what was then the biggest story across Canada. The ‘Shutdown Canada’ movement, which included solidarity actions of rail and port blockades nationwide, sparked a conversation about long-ignored Indigenous Rights.

While the B.C. and federal governments have adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into law, land defenders and experts say they aren’t seeing concrete changes.

Keep an eye out for more stories in The Narwhal on the latest developments from B.C.’s floodplains and Wet’suwet’en territory.

Take care and check in on your loved ones,

Arik Ligeti
Director of audience
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We’re hiring!


Hey, have you heard that there are two sweet gigs over here in Narlandia? Spread the word to your friends in the media and design worlds. We’ve extended our deadline for applications to Nov. 25.

Our team in B.C., where The Narwhal first made its name, is growing — and we need someone to help lead us to new heights as bureau chief. Bonus: you’ll get to work with all-star reporters Stephanie Wood, Sarah Cox and Matt Simmons.

And here’s a gig for the creatives out there: we’re seeking an art director, based anywhere in Canada, to do everything from managing our roster of photographers to overseeing the production of our stunning annual print edition.

The Narwhal in the world

A screengrab of Emma McIntosh and other panelists on The Agenda discussing the Ford government's highway plans
Highways, highways, highways. Ontario reporter Emma McIntosh had a busy week breaking down the Ford government’s infrastructure plans and their potential environmental impacts. First, Emma appeared on a panel on TVO’s The Agenda, before sitting down with our friends over at The Big Story podcast. Which reminds us: Emma will be chatting highways and much, much more during our upcoming Greenbelt event on Nov. 25. RSVP now.

Meanwhile, our editor-in-chief extraordinaire Emma Gilchrist was on the latest episode of The Brand is Female to talk about the journey that led to launching and growing The Narwhal together with Carol Linnitt.

Ask a Narwhal: Why did you become a member?

“Denise Balkissoon, Fatima Syed, Stephanie Wood, Emma McIntosh.”

Become a Narwhal

This week in The Narwhal

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More than nine million people live within 20 kilometres of Ontario’s two-million-acre protected Greenbelt. For two decades, it's been hailed as a conservation success story, but it’s still under pressure from urban sprawl.


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Jamie Fletcher, a councillor for High Bar First Nation Areas hard hit by B.C. drought now the target of bottled water corporations
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READ MORE An aerial photo of the Musselwhite gold mine in Northern Ontario, 275 kilometres west of the Ring of Fire. Miners competing over Ontario’s Ring of Fire have contentious relationships with Indigenous communities in Australia
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What we’re reading

The Tyee: The Power and Peril of Injunctions Globe and Mail: The B.C. flooding isn’t just a regional catastrophe – it’s a warning that climate change is coming for everyone r63

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