Country of Survival

by Lillian Ireland and Rob Dramer

This country’s beautiful and fragile human tapestry is interwoven with strands of every ethnicity imaginable. What a privilege to live in a country where, for the most part, our relationships exist within frameworks of respect, dignity and congeniality! Canada is known globally for this.

Yet watching our country slowly divide over the possible construction of an expanded Trans Mountain  pipeline is shaping to be a sad chapter of Canada’s history. Knowing that some of the broken relationships between provinces and even within provinces may not ultimately be repaired is grievous. Alberta and BC share the Rockies, the water that flows between, and the many families who have vastly opposing opinions regarding the pipeline expansion. The unraveling threads threaten to destroy the very fabric which gave us unity and strength as a country.

We wrote a song Country of Survival which looks at the many sides of this conflict. We’d like to provide a few words of introduction.

  1. Canada grew with assistance from the First Nations helping many immigrants survive their initial winters. Teaching newcomers what to eat and how to keep warm through the freezing temperatures while sharing what they had helped settlers build their own beginnings across this country. Indigenous people have a historical understanding of how to survive.
  2. Today’s children want to know what’s going to happen in the future. Amidst all the stories they continue to hear, they wonder if they will survive. They struggle as they try to make sense of climate change. So do most parents.
  3. The many who work in the oilfields want to give their families a future where they don’t have to struggle the way their own parents did. They want to survive as well.
  4. The many others who’ve lost their employment in the oil industry because of the recent four-year downturn have faced hardship and have been forced to find new employment. Some have been able to, some haven’t.
  5. The many on Burnaby Mountain purposely choosing arrest have multiple reasons for their decisions – standing with Indigenous people over lack of consent, improper consultation, fear of a spill or fire near the terminal, health risks, climate change, etc.
  6. The supporters on the Mountain, those writing letters or standing in the streets, those kayaking on the water, all see through a similar lens.
  7. In the courtroom, hundreds of protectors/protesters willingly face fines, community service or more as a last effort to have their concerns heard.

Being able to provide, feeling safe, and believing in the future are human desires. We all come from different vantages yet we have the same basic yearning to survive. Despite our age or our origins, we have been blessed to live in a country which has mostly provided stability, peace and a sense of well-being. How privileged we are!

Our hope is that we not destroy the very essence which gives us strength as a country. Hearing each other’s side helps, and so does knowing we all have a common desire for the future, even though we all have different ideas how to get there or what it might look like.

Times of transition are some of the most difficult. Trying to rise above confusion and fear while holding relationships sacred is equally difficult. Yet, in the long-term, we must rise in order to survive. There will be countless challenges as our planet’s temperature changes, and we’ll need each other even more. British Columbians need Albertans just as much as Albertans need British Columbians.

Ultimately, relationships are what gives us solid ground, peace and the ability to be resilient. There may be tension, but let it not tear us apart. May our country, built on survival help keep us strong in these changing times.



  1. Thank you beyond measure, Lillian and Rob, for your courage, your articulate standing up, your wisdom, insight. Blessings on you and your important work, for all the many groups affected by this difficult time and decision.

  2. Well written. Beautiful. God bless you Rob and Lilian for a well done job. I wish I could hear the song. Could you send me an mp3 recording?

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