In 2013, a few members of the Beyond Boarding collective, a group of BC snowboarders, surfers, artists, and friends that strive to stand up against environmental and social injustices, decided to embark on a journey throughout British Columbia and Alberta to gain a better understanding of Canadian resource extraction projects.
Their film, Northern Grease, follows Tamo Campos (Dr. Suzuki’s grandson), John Muirhead, Lewis Muirhead, Jasper Snow Rosen, Landon Yerex, and Hannah Campbell, as they travel in a vegetable oil fueled bus for eight months documenting the towns, the people, and the land that are affected by practices such as fracking, pipeline projects, and the tar sands.
Beginning in the emerald rainforest of Vancouver Island, the crew carves some waves in the west coast surf, cooks freshly caught fish, and ends up setting up camp in a local junkyard to work on what will be the first of several bus breakdowns.
Jasper sums up the (mis)adventures, “It was a bit of a doozy – I didn’t know what I was in for.”
Yet, the film is more than just the antics of a talented group of videographers with a healthy dose of humour and a passion for playing in the great outdoors. It explains what fracking is, the issues surrounding it, and pipeline developments. It also puts a face and gives voice to community members across BC who are dealing with pipeline proposals running through their backyard. Folks like farmers, Tim Ewert from Wildwood farms in Pouce Coupe, and Ricky Kniefel in Hazleton, who are using alternate energy sources such as solar and animal power. And members of the Tahltan Nation, the Klabona Keepers, who have set up camp on their traditional summer hunting grounds in the Sacred Headwaters to stop mining and gas projects slated for their northern wilderness paradise – home to three of the largest undammed salmon bearing rivers in North America: the Stikine, Naas, and Skeena rivers. (For more info, go to our website www.watershedsentinel.ca). The film also gives viewpoints from tar sand and pipeline workers, students … and even a mayor.
“The fact that these impacts on communities are labelled as prosperity makes me disgusted at the path our government is pushing for. They are putting economy before ecology and the people of British Columbia – the foundations of what makes this province so beautiful.” – Beyond Boarding
No matter what your take on the oil and gas industry is, this film showcases some of the most breath-taking wild places in British Columbia that many have yet to see.
Northern Grease is a beautiful, fun film that takes an earnest look at communites affected by energy projects in BC.
To download a copy of the film: www.reelhouse.org/beyondboarding/northern-grease
Susan MacVittie is managing editor of the Watershed Sentinel.