At the assembly of the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (APCI) on Saturday, May 2, APCI Bishop Barbara Andrews invited Anglicans from across the Central Interior to join the ongoing First Nations-lead protests against biosolid dumping in the Nicola Valley.
The bishop’s invitation came after the tabling of a resolution from APCI’s Indigenous Council, which called the assembly to “reaffirm its commitment to the preservation of all of God’s creation and acknowledge the example set by our First Nation brothers and sisters to protect the water, land, and other natural resources.” The resolution also urged the assembly to “support…the current efforts by members of our faith communities and their neighbours to protect the Nicola Valley from toxic waste.”
While the bishop thanked the Indigenous Council, and the Rev. Danny Whitehead and Heather Shuter for moving and seconding this “good piece of work,” she also suggested that a stronger stand was needed. “It didn’t call us to enough action,” she said.
The bishop promised to meet with the council in the “near future” to co-ordinate an APCI-wide response. “I will put out a message to the community inviting you to join me so we can do something more than pass a motion,” she said, “but that we can stand together and protect God’s creation, as we’ve been invited to do by the Indigenous Council.”
The protests in the Nicola Valley have come in response to the dumping of biosolids-mostly sewage sludge-from cities in the lower mainland and the Okanagan Valley on a 320-acre parcel of land adjacent to the homes of several valley residents.
Several members of the Indigenous Council have been active in blockading roads into the valley to try to stop the high volume of biosolid waste from being spread near their land. Many valley residents have complained of an intolerable smell-“like a really stinky outhouse,” according to Shuter-and of negative effects on wildlife and fish in the area.
While attempts have been made to contact the provincial government, Shuter said that both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous protesters, who together call themselves Friends of the Nicola Valley, have been ignored.