"Radical? Lopping off the top of a moutain and pouring it down into a couple of lakes is radical. Trying to stop them is not." George Amos, First Nation Elder in Northern British Columbia and for over thirty years a leading voice for conservation in Canada.
George Amos's epigraph in "The Sacred Headwaters" could not be more pertinent. "Radical" has recently become a very loaded term in political discourse, especially in Canada, pitching environmentalists and other concerned citizens, especially First Nations communities, against politicians and big (oil) corporations. In his afterword to this book, Robert F. Kennedy compares the dangers to the pristine region of Northern BC where the three major rivers, the Skeena, the Skitine and the Nass - the Sacred Headwaters for local First Nations People - originate to those that led to the Glen Canyon being buried forever when a dam was built over the Colorado River back in 1963. Wade Davis, explorer in-residence at the National Geographic Society, is the author of 15 book, based on his research and travels in many parts of the world, most recently, Into The Silence, about the Mount Everest Expeditions by George Mallory and his team in the early nineteen twenties.
The Sacred Headwaters: The Fight to Save the Stikine, Skeena, and Nass is an attractive table top book with a strong message. Exquisitely photographed by Carr Clifton and other members of the International League of Conservation Photographers, the quality and expressiveness of their images alone keep you in awe: the pristine landscape, far away from any roads; the play of colours as they change through daylight hours, weather patterns and seasons; the contrast and interplay betweeen rolling hills and lakes, high peaks and deep canyons...
David Wade has lived in this remote region seasonally since 1978. His text conveys intimacy with the landscape as much as with the cultural heritage of the local First Nations people. He introduces us to the political conflicts that have arisen with the provincial government's decision to open this region to industrial development. While Davis is passionate in his defense for preservation of the environment, it is easy to see for the reader that any industrial development, such as mining, would alter the landscape forever, destroy this treasured untouched wilderness and threaten the sustainable way of life of the local people. This is a book both to treasure and to take as a call for reflection and engagement on behalf of this and other surviving wildernis regions whether in Canada or elsewhere. [Friederike Knabe]