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Research Grants

2010 Research Grant Recipient

Sarah Panofsky
University of British Columbia
Pipeline politics: Northern Gateway and the contested landscape of environmental assessment

Pipeline clash

Sarah Panofsky photo
Photo: Andrew Querner
Sarah Panofsky (right) was drawn last summer to the Wet’suwet’en’s passionate opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, which will see an average of 525,000 barrels of oil a day transported across the First Nation’s traditional territory around Smithers, in central British Columbia. The proposed twin pipelines will run between the Edmonton area and a marine terminal in Kitimat, B.C.

A master’s student of human geography at the University of British Columbia, Panofsky is examining how the concerns of the Wet’suwet’en are being addressed through an environmental assessment process that will determine the fate of the project. Her thesis research has received financial assistance from The Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

At hearings last August and September in Kitimat and Prince George, B.C., Panofsky witnessed the Wet’suwet’en chiefs’ compelling presentations on the adverse impacts a pipeline will have on the land and wildlife. “There is such a clash of different world views,” she says, adding that the environmental assessment is a complex process skewed in favour of industry.

To share what she has learned, Panofsky is producing a documentary film in collaboration with the Office of the Wet’suwet’en. She hopes the film will bring to light the limitations of the environmental assessment in fully appreciating the repercussions of the proposed pipeline on the community.

— Catherine Labelle


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