As the Sioux of Standing Rock persevere in their legal battle against the Dakota Access Pipeline, the promoters are resorting to violence to disperse peaceful protesters.

Energy Transfer Partners’s private security attacked the protesters with pepper spray and dogs on Saturday, near the camp set up by indigenous activists in Southern North Dakota. The same day, the company bulldozed sacred burial grounds on private land.

A video report from Democracy Now! shows a group of persons trying to disperse the crowd with dogs and pepper spray. We can see several protesters who have clearly been maced in the face and a man showing the bloody dog bite on his arm.

Activist Martie Simmons, who was present, tweeted that six protesters, including a pregnant woman were bitten. Four private security guards and two guard dogs were injured, according to the local Sheriff’s Office (Morton County). The nature of the injuries suffered by the dogs and the guards were undisclosed but eyewitnesses affirm that the dogs were out of control, and bit the guards too.

Police say they received no reports of injured protesters.The sheriff’s office confirmed there was no officers present at the confrontation.

Indigenous resistance to the DAPL

Standing Rock’s Sioux tribe has organized opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline ever since the project first became public two years ago. The trajectory of the pipeline is set to skim their reserve and cross the Missouri River twice, causing concerns about water contamination and protection of cultural heritage sites.

Thousands of indigenous people from the US and Canada responded to the call of the Sioux of Standing Rock and set up camps near the Missouri River. Over a hundred tribes are represented in what became known as the oil protest camps, what could be one of the biggest assemblies of Indigenous Peoples this century. Non-native activists also joined the ranks.

Meanwhile, the Sioux of Standing Rock are suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for fast-tracking construction permits without consulting them.

The DAPL is a $4.88 billion pipeline that should conduct half a million barrels of crude oil per day from the Bakken Oil fields of North Dakota to Illinois. The pipeline will be just under 1900 km long and run through four states.

According to the Chairman of the Sioux Tribe of Standing Rock, Dave Archambault II, the pipeline threatens the lives of the people on the reserve and of the millions of people living downstream on the Missouri River, as well as ancestral Sioux sites.

“We never had an opportunity to express our concerns. This is a corporation that is bulldozing through,” Archambault told Democracy Now!.

His tribe is currently challenging the permits of Energy Transfer Partners in federal court on the grounds that the promoters did not adequately consult First Nations. They called for an emergency, temporary stopping of the construction on Tuesday, claiming that the company is already desecrating their burial sites. The federal court will announce its verdict on September 9th.

A Canadian Company

The DAPL is co-piloted by the American company Energy Transfer Partners and the Calgary-based Enbridge. Enbridge is no stranger to controversy, as it was recently forced by Canada’s federal court to give up on the Northern Gateway pipeline for similar reasons.

The $7.9 billion pipeline meant to export Albertan petroleum to the west coast had first been authorized by the Conservative government, despite the strong opposition of the native communities near its trajectory. However a federal appeal court revoked the permits in July, ruling that the Enbridge had not adequately consulted the affected aboriginal communities.

In 2015, Enbridge broke records by racking up $264 000 in fines from the National Energy Board, mostly because of safety and environmental hazards. However, the NEB ended up cancelling most of the fines due to lack of evidence.

Enbridge incidentally made the news today for acquiring Spectra Energy. The $37 billion transaction, if it is approved by appropriate authorities, could make Enbridge the biggest player on the North American market of energy infrastructure.

As we’ve mentioned, one of the largest issues facing food in Canada this year is the critical state of food insecurity in Nunavut.

In the past months, awareness has spread across the nation as Canadians slowly wake up to the severity of obstacles faced by Nunavummiut in reliably accessing healthy food.

The cost of food in stores recently rose so high that many people could not afford even the most basic goods in their fridges.Hopefully, the rest of us started to catch on, with headlines eliciting statements such as: “we can’t pretend it doesn’t exist anymore.”

The awareness and response from groups like Feeding My Family and Helping our Northern Neighbours have continued to point out the gravity of the situation, and generate donations.

Policy has been a focus, with the Nutrition North program – and MP Leona Aglukkak – coming under fire for critical flaws.

In addition to policy reform, corporate greed and economic growth are, of course, drivers of more reliable access. Some point to the economic plan for hope.

To be sure, there are many angles to this. If headlines tend to simplify problem, communities such as Helping our Northern Neighbours and Feeding My Family are very illustrative of the wide range of solutions being sought.

In far-reaching discussions from people dealing with these issues every day, it’s shown, for example, that traditional food (known as country food), can be similarly expensive compared to store food, not to mention complicated by geographical and generational gaps. While some initiatives are helping ease these problems, most agree that country food cannot be the only sustainable source of local food.

Yet amidst the range of issues being tested, debated, and discussed the most lively may be about local food production.

It’s also probably the least mediatized, which can lead to the illusion that it’s something completely untested. Many in Nunavut are thinking about different solutions. Some say that they’re tired of being asked, “What about greenhouses?” by distant folk, as some naive kind of panacea, as if no one had thought about it before.

A debate has arisen, yet there seems to be a consensus growing amongst community members that as a complementary approach, local food production has angles worth exploring.

$9 for three tomatoes. Photo by Karl Reid from Feeding My Family Facebook page.

Everyone is a bit skeptical. Growing vegetables in the Nunavut is hard. It’s been tried before, and has proven to be very expensive.

However growing vegetables in the Arctic is on the rise and the Nunavut Food Security Coalition highlights its relative importance, as one of the six themes to secure food in the region. An oft-neglected voice, the Coalition is the product of extensive public consultation on poverty in Nunavut, the partnership of Inuit organizations, government, non-profits and more.

“Local food production can help increase food security and self-reliance,” they conclude. Planned activities include empowering people (against many barriers), helping them start their own local growing initiatives adapting other creative projects in northern communities, and supporting research on local food production and finding new ways to make it financially viable. They even propose a 5-year plan.

Some point to existing initiatives that could be developed further, partnered with, or adapted as models. Examples include the greenhouse at Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, the Iqaluit Greenhouse (a reused hockey arena) and the Arviat Greenhouse Project.

If nothing else, the conversation on groups such as Feeding My Family shows what we can all learn about self-sufficient methods. The extreme growing conditions in the Arctic have put the spotlight on the most creative methods, such as:

  • Biodome greenhouses that can withstand extreme weather
  • Grow boxes, as seen in the Arviat project
  • Underground greenhouses – or walipinis. Given the permafrost, this is one of the most ambitious methods. Some insist they are feasible. Others have suggested enhancing their heat retention with chickens.
  • Grow barrels and growing in old fridges, which involve much less
  • Sprouting at home
  • Expanding arctic animal husbandry, example: muskox.

Even if this only touches on one-sixth (or less) of a complex picture, there is some lively discussions going on that warrant our attention. As a country, our sources of food are becoming less secure. Sharing the newest and most effective ways to be self-sufficient behooves us all.

You may have heard of the controversies surrounding the Canada-US Keystone XL pipeline which would bring Alberta’s oil  all the way down to the Gulf Coast. The resistance to that project is fuelling the push to bypass the US and create a homegrown version, Trans Canada’s Energy East pipeline, whereby 1.1 million barrels a day of diluted bitumen from Alberta’s oil-sands would be pumped through 4600 kilometers of pipes; Canadian refineries in the east would then process it after which it will be exported abroad.

By allowing  this pipeline to pass through their lands, communities across the country will be supporting further development of Alberta’s oil-sands. Conversely Canadians, who may feel powerless against Alberta and our federal government’s pro-oilsands position, can now mobilize against the Energy East project and directly curb the expansion of the tar-sands.

robert van waarden serge simon

Joining his voice to the choir of activists is Canadian photographer Robert Van Waarden who is setting out on an eight-week Canada-wide journey to capture in words and on film the many faces of those who will live along the pipeline’s proposed route. For his Along the Pipeline project, Van Waarden will meet, discuss with, and photograph those who would shoulder the brunt of the risk associated with living in close proximity to the pipeline as well as those who may benefit from job opportunities it would create along the way (a claim challenged by major environmental groups).

We have all seen images of Alberta’s tar-sands intended to shock us into action and expose us to the reality of where the oil, that we all use on a daily basis, comes from. But these shock-and awe images are a double edged sword: we are simultaneously faced with the devastating environmental consequences of living in an oil-dependent society and dwarfed by the system that has consented to its destruction. The scale of the environmental degradation runs parallel to the economic and political power that allow the oil-sands to exist.

By focusing on the people directly affected by the pipeline, Van Waarden is seeking out “individuals working on change, pushing our world towards a more sustainable place [and whose] story is one of inspiration, empowerment and co-operation.” Since this mighty piece of privately-owned infrastructure will link people and communities on a national scale it seems worthwhile to understand what meanings this connection holds to those concerned. By humanizing those affected by the pipeline and highlighting the interconnectedness of the human experience,  the struggle becomes more relateable; as more pockets of resistance come to the surface, the challenge seems less herculean.

Forget The Box is pleased to follow Van Waarden as he travels across the country chronicling the stories of those affected by the Energy East pipeline. With preparations underway, Van Waarden is seeking help from the public to support his project though his indigogo crowdfunding initiative which comes to a close on April 6. Photographs and multimedia pieces will be published throughout his travels on his website and you can follow him via Twitter and Instagram.

robert van waarden bernard organic farmer

If VanWaarden is on a tight schedule, so too is TransCanada. They must file their project application by this summer, after which the National Energy Board has fifteen months to make a decision. Understandably, they are lobbying hard. Town meetings are sponsored all along the pipeline’s route to convince residents to not block their $12-billon project.

Here in Quebec, the Fédération québécoise des municipalités will gather its members in Drummondville on April 8 to discuss the impacts of the pipeline weighing envrionmental concerns with potential economic benefits. One look at the FQM meeting’s agenda and it becomes clear that TransCanada is targeting all political decision-makers and potential opponents with their lobbying efforts.

It’s not because we benefit from and are dependant on oil that we forfeit the right to object to the expansion of the oil-sands. Why do some people support the pipeline? What acts of resistance, large and small, are being carried out against it?

Through the medium of photography Van Waarden will contribute to the ongoing discussion and will capture not only what the Energy East project “means to this nation but what sort of community, country, and world we want to live in.”

Images courtesy of Robert Van Waarden. You can help make Along the Pipeline happen by donating to his crowdfunding campaign




61uZSB7F7lL._SY300_One of the things that comes with gardening is maintenance: bugs, soil quality, sun time, shadow time, fertilizing, pest control, squirrel wars, etc. These elements make gardening feel like a rad science experiment – which I find rather fascinating. Along with a misunderstanding with house sitters, my garden has been having a rough time this summer. Those seedlings that survived what shall now be known as the miscommunication drought of 2013, have become the lunch for some kind of insect.

You Grow Girl blogger and author, Gayla Trail, one of my go to gardening resources, reminds us that getting familiar with bug life is important. Some bugs are good, some bugs not so much, but it’s best to know your pests. I have yet to meet the culprit who has been devouring my lone sunflower and sprawling mint, but I am on the lookout. In the meantime, I’ve been looking for organic solutions and this is the one that I chose – from You Grow Girl. This insecticide is all purpose – which is good for those of us who have yet to solve the bug mystery. Furthermore, unlike this citrus-based insecticide (Smellerific Citrus Peel Spray), the dangers of burning the plants is not a factor. After what these frail babies have been through, I won’t chance them being cooked by my rookie gardner skills.


“Bad Breath Pepper Garlic Spray”



4 cups of boiled water

1 entire bulb of garlic

1 smallish onion

1tbs hot pepper (flakes, powder, or fresh)

thin strainer


spray bottle



  1. Steep all ingredients overnight in the boiling water.
  2. Pour the whole mess into a blender or food processor and liquify.
  3. Strain.
  4. Funnel liquid into a spray bottle.
  5. Thoroughly coat the leaves of the infected plant with the spray. Be sure to get the undersides and other nooks and crannies where bugs will hide.
  6. Store mixture in the fridge.


I used the insecticide on my plants and it seems as though the attacks have stopped. According to You Grow Girl, garlic has a chemical that repels bugs and also acts a fungicide (bonus!). The hot pepper pest repellant property lies in the capsium, which also repels tiny rodents. There are still bugs hanging around my container garden and I suspect it is important to try and spray often. A friend of mine mentioned that she uses lines of cinnamon on top of the soil to repel ants and that she has also used just sticking garlic cloves into the earth. I’ve added the cinnamon trick in combination with the spray. I will probably try to a few other methods as I continue my adventures in balcony gardening. Hope this helps some of you in terms of finding alternatives to toxic/non-organic insecticides.