BURNABY, B.C. — Indigenous leaders beat drums and sang out against Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline project Saturday, saying they won’t step aside for construction.
Rueben George, of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, told thousands of protesters that it will take more rallies and protests to stop the $7.4-billion project, which is set to increase the flow of oil products to 890,000 barrels up from 300,000 barrels per day.
“It’s going to take gatherings such as this … (to) make sure the environment is not laid to waste and taken away from future generations. This is what we stand for today,” George said, speaking by megaphone to the crowd gathered outside Burnaby’s Lake City Way Skytrain station.
The Tseil-Waututh are among six First Nations that filed a court challenge to the project last fall, along with the City of Burnaby and City of Vancouver. The First Nation organized the protest alongside the Musqueam and Squamish First Nations, George said.
Protesters marched toward a watch tower they were building, which will overlook tanker traffic on the coast.
George explained that First Nations would traditionally build a watch tower, or “Kwekwecnewtxw,” to watch for enemies. He said the environmental threat posed by the pipeline expansion constitutes such an enemy.
Squamish First Nation elder Robert Nahanee said expanding the pipeline will only add more pollution to the coast where he grew up.
“My family was food gatherers. We gathered clams, crabs, oysters fish — everything. That’s how I grew up. Now we can’t even do that,” Nahanee said. “We need to stand up and hear our voices. My voice is: O, Canada, you’re on native land.”
The anti-pipeline march was held the same day as a pro-pipeline rally, which was scheduled for Saturday afternoon in downtown Vancouver.
On Friday, a B.C. Supreme Court judge granted Kinder Morgan an interim injunction aimed at preventing anti-pipeline activists from protesting construction at two terminals in Burnaby.
The injunction restricts protesters from coming within 50 metres of the facilities until Wednesday, when a hearing on the matter will continue.
Amy Smart, The Canadian Press