The Pain In My Shoulder

Last Sunday, when I was deep in preparation for my testimony to the National Energy Board (NEB) for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion application by Kinder Morgan, I developed an acute and severe pain in my right shoulder.

It was focused in an area about the size of a loonie. Some called it a kink and others speculated that it was the result of a voodoo curse. Somewhere there was a doll with a needle in the shoulder.

For the next 48 hours that burden weighed heavy; my head locked straight forward. I could not sit comfortably, I could not stand comfortably, and sleep was scarce. When I sat down in front of the NEB for my oral testimony on Tuesday, my mind drifted away from my shoulder pain and l became laser focussed on the task at hand.

Following the 90 minute testimony, I stood, stretched and immediately realized my shoulder was free from its affliction, that the acute pain had diminished and that my head was free again.

Preparations for the testimony were underway for months. It was a process of balling up all the thoughts, feelings and experiences. Frankly, my first draft was more like an uncontrollable rant; 12 pages of the unspeakable.

That presentation was a waypoint in my life, a milestone. It was driven by emotion, by anger and love, by absolute clarity and deafening confusion. The pain in my shoulder was inside and just under the surface. It was the accumulation of a lifetime of angst, the culmination of a journey of watching, listening and learning.

I am thankful that the NEB provided me the opportunity to share my stories of Saanich, to highlight the important issues facing this territory and to explain how the government has let down all Canadians by leaving the issues that I raised to ferment for so long.

Although I was speaking as just one member of the W̱SÁNEĆ people and only on my own behalf, it was, in a way, also on the behalf of all of us. By ignoring important unfinished business with the Saanich People, the provincial and federal governments have been putting us all at risk. They are nurturing a massive liability.

It is not easy wading through these issues. It requires delicate treading. Soft steps. We are all implicated, because the government is creating unnecessary risk and they are not exercising an abundance of caution. Therefore, burying issues such as the Douglas Treaty does not do anybody any good.

Just as it was critical for me to turn and face this painful accumulation of thoughts, feelings and experiences in preparation for my testimony, it is critical that our leaders do the same. They will find the pain in their shoulder will subside and they will walk free from the burden of guilt and shame that they carry on all our behalf.


Adam Olsen

Stellys Cross Road, Brentwood Bay, BC, V8M 1J7