August 19, 2019

Interview with Bonnie George

August 19, 2019
The North Matters was recently at the Bulkley Valley Exhibition in Smithers where our friend Bonnie George stopped by to say hello. Bonnie is a Wet’suwet’en member and a Coastal Gas Link employee. We took the opportunity to ask Bonnie some questions about working for an industry that seems to get a lot of negative attention around here. Here are some excerpts from our chat.
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The North Matters: What made you decide to work for Coastal Gas Link.  

Bonnie: I wanted to know what industry was all about because it was fairly new to us. 
So I did my research, asked a lot of questions and learned for myself to see what industry has done, what it will do and how it would impact our people and our culture. 
The more I learned I got interested in working. I had the opportunity and I absolutely loved the environment and the people I work with are very respectful and very supportive. 

The North Matters: It looks like you’ve taken a ‘hands on’ approach to protection of the things important to you and your community. 

Bonnie: Absolutely. I was told very young, even as a child, by my parents and grandparents, as a Wet’suwet’en person we always kept our culture and our traditions intact in our lives. 
I remember hearing my grandparents always telling me to protect our lands and protect our waters, but there is always going to be something happening out there. 
In order for us to be part of that, we need to be part of the discussion to let industry know what we want and how we want it done according to our laws. 
It’s not like we are discrediting, or not owning, or not honouring our laws; We are (honouring and owning) by having an open dialogue and teaching them what our society is about as a Wet’suwet’en person. 
We can work with industry. We need to be open-minded as well as industry needs to be open-minded. We need to work together as one. 

The North Matters: There is a lot of divided public opinion around benefits versus negative effects. Do you think the benefits outweigh the potential negative effects of industry coming through here?

Bonnie: I believe they do. I’ve seen it for myself working out there in ground zero and working in the field. 
Interviewing the engineers, interviewing the experts that are in the field, I ask the hard questions. And what I do, part of my job, is sharing the questions I ask with my people; and if they have any questions that they want me to ask on their behalf, I will. 
It gives them courage to ask those hard questions because they’ve been afraid of all the animosity that has been created in the past 5, 7, 10 years. People are afraid, but they are slowly coming out and having confidence in our people and having more confidence because they see more First Nations working out in industry. 
We thank Bonnie for taking the time to talk with us. She is a bright light for her community, working hard to bring people together, showing courage, protecting her people’s culture and finding solutions.

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