A Paddle from the Peace

The faces of betrayal & bullshit.

On December 11, 2017, Premier John Horgan and his government announced that they were continuing the Site C dam in spite of all the evidence against it. In spite of the expert testimony against it, in spite of the voices of people in Treaty 8 Territory and the Peace River valley, and hundreds of NDP & union members and supporters who urged the government to stop the dam. Although Treaty 8 was signed in 1899, and the Premier said in 2016, “You cannot mitigate alienating people from their traditional actions which is fishing, which you will not be able to do after the dam.” The Premier even used the word “Reconciliation” in his speech in a disgraceful display of hypocrisy. Prior to the 2017 election, he and many in his cabinet had pledged in public, in print and in the legislature to stop Site C. Then they turned 180 degrees.

Photo of me & Claire at the Paddle for the Peace by Matt Prevost, Alaska Highway News.

The government has yet to provide credible answers for its decision and excludes the Site C decision from its lists of the triumphs of its first year in power – as if nothing happened. In response to their breach of trust, I chopped up a paddle I had used on the Halfway River and Peace River (as well as many times on the Bowron Lakes circuit) on the winter solstice.

I then constructed “caskets” for the paddle pieces, using Chinese plywood (thinking of the attempted takeover of Aecon Construction by the China Communications Construction Company). I printed the logo of the BC Building Trades unions on the base plates, since these mostly US-based unions lobbied heavily in favour of Site C. On the sides I printed a paddle with glow-in-the-dark ink to embody its spirit.

An NDP coroplast election sign I kept after the May, 2017 election (in which I put up signs for the Cariboo North candidate and scrutineered) provided material for six lids printed with quotes from Premier Horgan and Ministers Heyman, Popham, Dix, Mungall and Fraser before the election. I wired marettes that matched the NDP orange  into the lids as handles, and routered rabbets in the boxes so they would sit flush.

I lined each coffin with shredded Canadian money, since our government has no qualms about wasting billions of dollars for power we don’t need and for which it has no market. They were on display at the Site C Summit in Victoria in late January, 2018, after which I took them to the steps of the BC Legislature for a photo shoot.

Then the coffins made their way to Arlene and Ken Boon at their farm at Bear Flat. Ground Zero of the Site C dam.

With their usual grace and good humour, they cremated the coffins on a beautiful day late in the spring with the sun sparkling on the snow. Here are some clips courtesy of Arlene and Ken:
receiving & unpacking the coffins,
stacking the coffins in the burn bin,
cremation with stakes in background,
panoramic cremation, and
mounting the lids with quotes on the bird feeder.
Still shots follow here (all photos courtesy of Arlene Boon):

Rather than burn the plastic lids, they mounted them to a tall bird feeder where the words of Premier Horgan and his Ministers – George Heyman, Lana Popham, Michelle Mungall, Adrian Dix and Scott Fraser – remain on display as a record of their betrayal of the people of Treaty 8, the Peace River valley and all of BC (we’ll all pay for this boondoggle).

T-shirts I printed to raise funds for T8’s legal defense.

The above words in Cree and in Dane-zaa remain true and I trust will guide us in the months and years ahead, regardless of the actions of the government and BC Hydro. Thanks to Art Napoleon for the Cree translation and Verena Hofmann & Treaty 8 Tribal Association for the Dane-zaa text. Thanks to Ian Crawford for photodocumentation and shipping support. Also thanks to Arlene and Ken Boon for their photos, videos and unparalled hospitality.

2 thoughts on “A Paddle from the Peace

  1. Heather

    Bill, your art as a form of activism is always moving. This one is particularly powerful. I am sad about the need to do this, but grateful to you for keeping this issue in the forefront of our minds. ~Heather


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