The End of the Line – Red Head and Energy East

I am currently in New Brunswick turning my lens once again on the Energy East pipeline. With the decision by TransCanada to not pursue the deep sea port in Cacouna, Quebec, all eyes are now turned on the Bay of Fundy. With the support of the Council of Canadians and 350.org, I have the opportunity to capture some stories of the individuals and communities that would be impacted at the End of the Line.

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At the heart of this issue in New Brunswick is the community of Red Head. Around 1500 people call the scenic Red Head home. Located within the city limits of Saint John, this community would be ground zero for the tank farm. The oil and bitumen would be stored here before it is loaded onto tankers for export.

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New Brunswick is largely considered a captured province with the corporate influence of Irving dominating the politics, media and social life. However,  the residents of Red Head are starting to organize against the pipeline. This is the story I find fascinating and I will share more soon.

In Pictures – Over 25,000 march in Quebec City for Climate Action

 

On Saturday, April 4, 2015, over 25,000 citizens marched in Quebec City calling on Canadian Premiers and the Federal Government to Act on Climate. I was contracted by Greenpeace to cover this huge moment. Those images have been shared and used widely on the net the last few days, including over 15,000 times here on ThinkProgress. I believe that this march is a sign that the climate movement has hit a tipping point.

 

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Exhibition Opening – Along the Pipeline at Nuit Blanche

TBob Smokerhis Saturday, Feb. 28, the Maison du Développement Durable in Montreal will play host to the Along the Pipeline photography exhibition. Presented within the confines of the Nuit Blanche, this promises to be an exciting evening with cocktails, pipelines and lots of people. If you are in Montreal and free, please stop by. Afterwards you can continue on to one of the many numerous events happening all across the city.

Can’t make the opening on Saturday? Don’t worry, the exhibit will be displayed until March 17, 2015.

Where: Maison du Developpement Durable
When: Saturday, Feb 28 – March 17
Time: Opening at 20:00 on Saturday, Feb. 28

The Stories TransCanada is afraid you’ll see – Energy East

Bob Smoker

Recently my work creating Along the Pipeline was singled out by TransCanada and their (former) PR firm Edelman as a threat to their Energy East project. The statement in question comes from a Reasearch Synthesis that was leaked to Greenpeace and can be found on page 11. It reads:

Image: Edelman Leak

I don’t know if I should be shocked or honoured that I seem to have the ability to ‘create an emotional response that can override logic and reasoning.’

Along the Pipeline has always been about the stories and opinions shared by people that I met on my journey. Along the way I encountered people that agreed with the project, disagreed with the project, and those that are still making up their minds.

Mike Gerbrandt

These documents clearly show that TransCanada was considering using deceitful tactics to attack environmental advocates, and also one of their key worries is the spread of real stories from real people. They would prefer to write the script for stories from a fabricated grassroots movement – with comments disabled – while attacking and silencing the voices and opinions of regular people along their pipeline route. It is clear that TransCanada is interested in pushing one-sided spin, and is not comfortable with an honest, open debate about impacts on communities and the climate.

Targeting artists that share real stories is the sign of a company that knows it’s losing its social license. If they can’t be trusted to engage in fair, democratic debate, can they be trusted to build a pipeline 4500km across Canada, over hundreds of waterways, enabling an explosion of tar sands growth? Or do we want a different future?

If you believe in the value of real stories then take a moment to watch and share this one from Nora Gould in Alberta.

If you believe that real voices should be heard and can help me continue this project, please donate below.

Published: Energy East Photography in Photo Life

The Dec/Jan issue of Photo Life Magazine features the Along the Pipeline project. Along the Pipeline is a portrait project that documents the people and communities along TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline route.

It is great to see this article in Canada’s top photo magazine. It is important that this story reaches different audiences and I am thrilled with the job that the publishers did with the project. If you are in Canada go and pick up a copy from your local magazine store.

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Along the Pipeline – A portrait project along the Energy East pipeline route published in Photo Life Magazine.

Meeting the Canadian’s Energy East would affect – Exhibit in Toronto

This blog post originally appeared on Environmental Defence’s website.

Meeting the Canadians that Energy East puts at risk

It was a typical northern Ontario day on the shores of Shoal Lake, when I really got it.

I was a month into a photography project to highlight the voices of people along the proposed Energy East pipeline route. I was interviewing Chief Fawn Wapioke of Shoal Lake 39. We had retreated from the mosquitos outside to a couch in the living room.

Bob Smoker

Fawn was talking about making decisions based on how they would affect future generations. I’d heard other individuals share similar sentiments before. But that day, Fawn’s toddler twins were playing at our feet. Listening to Fawn’s words and watching those kids play, it really sank in.

This was clearly about more than one pipeline. This was about building a different system – one where a clean environment and a sustainable economy provide a resilient system for future generations to thrive.

Last spring, I traced Energy East’s proposed 4,600 km route. All those kilometres provide a lot of stories, a lot of opinions and a lot of cups of coffee. This country we call Canada is a beautiful land full of beautiful people. Everywhere I went on my journey along the pipeline, people gave me hours and days of their time. They shared their life stories, homes, and food with a photographer determined to find out what Canadians and First Nations thought about plans for a massive new tar sands pipeline heading east.

Every individual had their own opinions informed by their own experiences. I talked to people that supported the pipeline, people still making up their mind and many that were doing everything they could to oppose it.

It’s clear that Canadians and First Nations are giving thought to the complex issues of energy, environment and economy. We are smart people. Many of us aren’t buying the line pushed by tar sands industry and the federal government that ‘we need this pipeline for jobs and the economy.’

Most also recognize the climate implications of the mega-pipeline. Every person I spoke with, whether they agreed with the pipeline proposal or not, talked about the need for Canada to move towards more renewable energy.

This is a complex issue. And, sometimes it takes a personal story, a face, or an experience to drive home what this is all about.

Beginning this Friday, some of the images from Along the Pipeline will be on display in Toronto for the exhibit Exposing Energy East. The exhibit is free and open to the public, October 31 to November 5.

I invite you to come and see the faces of Canadians who live along Energy East’s proposed route. Hear their concerns about this project. I promise it will make you consider not only the issue of the pipeline, but also ask that bigger question – what kind of Canada do we want to build?

Henry Harris – Energy East and the Bay of Fundy

Henry Harris is a fisherman living on Grand Manan in the Bay of Fundy. He started fishing when he was 14 years old and has been on a boat ever since. His livelihood and the livelihood of 2000+ people living on Grand Manan is connected to the lobster fishing industry. The proposed Energy East pipeline from TransCanada would end in St. John, New Brunswick, and a major increase in tanker traffic is expected if the pipeline is built. Fishermen on the Bay are concerned about the potential of a spill and what it could mean for their communities.

I was lucky enough to head out lobster fishing with Henry while on my Along the Pipeline project. I managed to capture a few images in between those moments where I lost my breakfast over the side. The next day Henry was kind enough to sit down with me and share some of his thoughts.

Watch below.

Along the Pipeline | Energy East Pipeline Photography

Energy East - Hardisty Tank Terminal

The Hardisty Tank Terminal, beginning of the proposed Energy East pipeline.

My latest photography project, Along the Pipeline, is underway. I am currently in Regina and I have been on the road for the last couple of weeks. My journey has taken me from Hardisty in Alberta and will continue to the East Coast of Canada. I have been photographing the individuals and the route of the proposed Energy East pipeline to find out what it means to Canadians and First Nations. It has been a great experience. I have met ranchers, farmers, oil workers, and foreign workers.

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Photo session at the Gould Ranch in Alberta.

 

The project focuses on a series of large format portraits created on a 4×5 film camera. Each image will eventually be combined with a quote or little anecdote from that individual explaining their position on the pipeline and the future of Canada.

I hope that the photographs will create a journal and record of some of the people along the route and how they will be affected. You can follow all of the updates and the journey at my sister website, AlongthePipeline.com. From here I will keep moving east.

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Pat Wheeler, Hardisty, Alberta

Defend Our Climate – Toronto Rally

I am currently on my trip west across Canada to Alberta to begin the main leg of the Along the Pipeline project. Along the way I was lucky enough to find myself in Toronto during the Defend our Climate rally. Around 1500 people came out in Toronto today to take part in the rally. The rally was part of a national day of action drawing attention to pipelines, tar sands, climate change and other resource extraction that is exacerbating climate change, affecting First Nations and leading Canada towards a Petrostate future.

Led by First Nations, many different faces, nationalities and ages joined in the march, it was an amazing day in sunny Toronto.

Along the Pipeline featured on DeSmogBlog

My upcoming project Along the Pipeline has just been featured on the popular Desmogblog. Check it out. 

I will be following the line of the proposed Energy East pipeline in Canada to take portraits and tell the stories of those along the route. TransCanada, the same company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, is proposing another pipeline but this time across Canada. If approved, Energy East would transport 1.1 million barrels of diluted bitumen a day from the oil sands of Alberta to St. John. It would cross hundreds of waterways and drinking water supplies and would be responsible for greenhouse gas emissions that would equal 7 million new cars on the road.

This photography project gives me a chance to contribute to a larger conversation in Canada about climate change, oil and the future of this land. I am currently in the throes of a crowd funder for this project so please visit and support.