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My hunger strike against the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is only the beginning

One woman's stand against a looming environmental catastrophe.

Mia Nissen at the Vancouver Art Gallery: Hunger strike against the Enbridge XL pipeline project.

My name is Mia Nissen, a student and staffer at SFU. I was engaged in a seven-day hunger strike to protest Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project. My hunger strike began on Christmas Day and ended on New Year's Eve.

As a friend of mine wrote, Civic duty means more than voting once every 4 years. You can find out how the first half went by reading this story:

Now this is how the rest of the hunger strike went down.

December 29 was Day 5. My energy was dropping along with my weight, but my spirits were high. I tipped the scales at 114.8 lb. I had lost nearly six and a half pounds since Christmas, but don't get jealous.

I went back down to the Vancouver Art Gallery again today...

... And a few friends joined me.

I also shared some photos of Kalamazoo spill disaster, mismanaged by Enbridge, on Facebook. I'll share them here, too.

Kind words from friends and supporters sent my spirit soaring:

  • "My Facebook friend Mia Nissen is on Day 5 of her Northern Gateway hunger strike. Today I will join her in solidarity at the Art Gallery with my signs. Who else wants to join us ?"
  • "Mia, thank you for standing for our environment. You are very courageous! I am there is spirit and will support you in any way that I can. Blessings of peace and power to you!!"
  • "Hello - sister. We are of the same mindset. Thank you for your dedication to peaceful, compassionate action. Take care of yourself - after the fast. Have done some myself. You are not only standing for the environment - but for humanity's well-being."

December 30, Day 6: My energy was super-low, but my spirits were still soaring. I was interviewed by Irwin Oostindie for Co-op Radio. You can listen to it here; I come in at 43:00.

My weight was the same as it was on Day Five.

December 31: New Year's Eve, and the 7th and final day of my hunger strike. the final day of my fast. What an amazing journey so far. I'm grateful to have met so many kind, supportive and committed people. Today's weigh in: 113.4 lbs. So I lost almost 8 pounds during my hunger strike.

That afternoon I was interviewed by Drex from CKNW Radio Vancouver's "The Shift." However, Drex was not at all interested in discussing the issues. For some odd reason, he was intent on trivializing the hunger strike as "futile" and "silly." So, in this light, I'm glad it didn't air. I wouldn't want anything to taint what was for me a beautiful and powerful experience.

Activism can quite the calorie-burner, but, as I've said before, it's not for everyone. By that point I was having difficulty sitting up or standing. I had a throbbing headache. After the radio interview I visited my doctor.

The doctor checked my blood pressure, which was quite low, and advised that I start taking food immediately.

I told him I would eat something at 12:01am (Jan 1st technically being the end of my hunger strike). My doctor said he admired my resolve, but he still recommended that I eat something right away.

I promised to go home and lay down and remain inactive until 12:01am.

Once 2014 arrived, I broke the fast with soft tofu and pear slices. If my action raised any awareness, then I consider it a success. I learned so much about community, spirit and dealing with the media. Along this journey my resolve has deepened; to do whatever it takes to protect the waters, forests and coastal communities, for ourselves and for future generations.

I am relatively new to activism, and still have a lot to learn. I know that it's bigger than just one pipeline project.

I've met some beautiful, committed and fierce allies in protecting our coast. Each person's voice counts and collectively we cannot fail.

My conscience will continue to dictate my actions. I cannot stand by as a passive observer while Big Oil and Government continue to commit crimes against the environment and people. I'm not suggesting we get off our oil addiction overnight, but for the Harper Government to take us down the path of expanding the tar sands is insanity, and is the path toward the end of Mother Earth that sustains us all.

Dr. Tom Gunton, Director of Resource and Environmental Planning in the SFU School of Resource and Environmental Management, rates the chance of a tanker spill related to the operation of the Enbridge XL pipeline as virtually a sure thing. If you want to make that thing a lot less sure, here are two upcoming actions:

  1. Saturday, January 11th: Stop Enbridge/Stop Harper petition drive at Vancouver Art Gallery
  2. Saturday January 18th: Idle No More Metrotown - Protect the Salish Seas

With love and respect,


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