Why I'm on a hunger strike to stop the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline

"We cannot let Enbridge destroy our waters, forests and coastal communities."

Mia Nissen's holiday hunger strike.

My name is Mia Nissen, and I am a student and employee at Simon Fraser University. Like many other Canadians, I am taking a stand against Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project. The risks posed by the Northern Gateway pipeline far outweigh any rewards, and I believe that the intelligence (and integrity) of my fellow British Columbians will win in the end.

In the spirit of peaceful protest, I am engaging in a seven-day hunger strike, from Christmas until New Year’s Eve. My goals are simple: to demonstrate the extreme measures ordinary citizens are willing to take in opposition to this pipeline, and to add my voice to the collective outcry against Enbridge's pipeline project.

I am inspired by First Nations, environmental groups and ordinary citizens who have been participating in peaceful protests all over the province and across the country. I hope social media will help bring awareness to what I'm doing, so please share this with your friends and family.

Fasting is certainly not for everyone, especially during the holiday season. While I was waiting in the lineup to buy Gatorade and multivitamins for my hunger strike, the people around me were buying yummy Christmas goodies and gifts.

However, as I was standing there I noticed that instead of feeling the usual holiday stress and rush, I felt a peaceful, warm glow inside. What a blessing, to come to understand that the greatest gifts are priceless: family, friends, healthy waters, forests and communities. Everything else can just stay at the mall!

I began with a Christmas Eve video message for Christie Clark abd Stephen Harper, a reminder to our politicians in Victoria and Ottawa that oil companies are not the only stakeholders in Canada's future.

We are not "radicals". We simply want to save our waters, forests and coastal communities.

Christmas Day was Day One. I've gotten plenty of kind words as my hunger strike began. I started with a weigh-in: the scale read 121.2 pounds. Unlike most other bathroom scales in Vancouver, this one will be showing me lower and lower numbers over the next few days.

I recorded another video for Facebook, sharing my optimism that the Northern Gateway pipeline project will be defeated.

On Day Two, I was still feeling good. I watched "Oil in Eden" again: you can watch it below if you have not already seen it.



Now it's December 27, Day Three. I'm still feeling fine, but my energy levels are a bit lower than normal. I'm down to 117.8 pounds.

I'm putting together a protest sign with the help of a friend.

A reporter from The Province just told me “the editors do not see the protest as news.” OK, fair enough. I'm just an ordinary person. I'm not presuming anybody will care about this action. However, I believe there are times when the individual needs to step up instead of waiting for someone else to do so.

For me it's a moral issue. I can't just passively observe as companies like Enbridge commit their crimes against Canada's environment and people.

December 28, Day Four: I was down at the Vancouver Art Gallery this afternoon with Thomas Chan, raising awareness and having great conversations with people! Here's Thomas with our signs.

We can continue to stick our heads in the sand, but these are desperate times for the planet that gives us life, and desperate times call for desperate measures.

The hunger strike is a time-honored act of non-violent resistance. I drew inspiration from notable figures such as Gandhi. Closer to home we have the courageous staff and students of Bella Bella Community School, who engaged in a 48-hour hunger strike last year in opposition to this pipeline project.

 

Once my strike is finished, I will continue to engage in as many actions, rallies and demonstrations as I possibly can. I may even engage in another hunger strike.

Since I am fairly new to activism, I still have a lot to learn, but I have met some amazing and supportive people along this journey. What I have learned so far is that there is a fierce opposition to the pipeline project all across the country.

The bottom line is, Enbridge is a company with a history of spills and corruption. We cannot let Enbridge destroy our waters, forests and coastal communities.

I believe that if we each do something (write a letter, sign a petition, just somehow get in the game) then we can protect our waters, forests and coastal communities now and for future generations. Thank you and Happy Holidays!

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