The August cover story of National Geographic profiles this white black bear, the Gitga’at and the struggle against Calgary-based Enbridge’s attempts to build a pipeline from the oil sands in Alberta to the Pacific coast, cutting right through the territory of dozens of First Nations. Such a pipeline would be Canada’s key to the international market beyond the U.S.—China is thirsting for fuel, for instance—but numerous First Nations coalitions have turned down financial incentives designed to get them to permit the transport of the extracted crude and gas across their lands.
Also at issue is the method of getting the oil ocean-bound: Under the plan, huge oil tankers, some as tall as an NYC skyscraper, would wend their way up winding, narrow waterways to Kitimat, which is coastal but not on the open sea, and load up on the viscous liquid.
A spill anywhere along the route, the Gitga’at and others point out, could have far-reaching repercussions on the environment and thus the people who depend on it.
Below: "The First Nation of Gitga’at, part of the Tsimshian people who inhabit the northwest coast of British Columbia, are stewards of the white black bear known as the Spirit Bear. They are all featured, along with Enbridge's proposed pipeline, on the August cover of National Geographic."