By Atiya Jaffar
Years from now, people are going to look back at March 2018 as a moment when history was made.
For anyone with a social media account or with eyes on any national media outlet, in the last week, you will have seen a wave of enormous, inspiring, and historic resistance to the Kinder Morgan TransMountain pipeline and tanker project.
10,000 people strong
It all started days after Kinder Morgan called for an injunction banning peaceful demonstrations within a 50 meter radius of its terminal facility (they were rebuked for this ridiculous request, with a judge granting the Texas oil company a 5 meter injunction). In response, the largest ever mobilization to date against the project took place on March 10th when 10,000 people marched in solidarity with Coast Salish spiritual leaders who simultaneously built a watch house, called Kwekwecnewtxw, on the path of the Kinder Morgan pipeline on Burnaby Mountain. “My ancestors built Kwekwecnewtxw — “a place to watch from’ — when danger threatened our people,” Tsleil-Waututh member Will George said. “Danger threatens our people now, as Kinder Morgan tries to send hazardous diluted bitumen through our territory.” That day, Coast Salish spiritual leaders went on to extend an invitation to their friends, allies, and supporters to “warrior up” in the fight against Kinder Morgan and join bold actions to protect the land, water, and climate from Kinder Morgan.
Almost 200 arrests on Burnaby Mountain
People were eager to heed this call. From March 17th — 24th, 172 people were arrested at the gates of the Kinder Morgan facility on Burnaby Mountain.
Starting on March 17th, wave upon wave of concerned community members marched to the Kinder Morgan terminal on Burnaby Mountain, tied themselves to the gates — blocking access to the facility for hours and breaking the company’s court-granted injunction until they were arrested by RCMP officers.
These courageous action takers included Indigenous activists from across the continent, youth prepared to fight for their future, a former employee of TransMountain who was ready to stand on the right side of history, grandparents taking action for their grandchildren, couples participating together in partnership, a palliative care nurse who wanted to fight for life, and mothers joining arm in arm with their daughters.
There were some high profile participants as well: Indigenous actress and activist, Carmen Moore; the leader of the Green Party of Canada, Elizabeth May; and NDP MP, Kennedy Stewart. May and Stewart became the first ever sitting MPs to get arrested in solidarity with an Indigenous-led fight for climate justice.
Solidarity from Coast to Coast
In the midst of all this, people across the country were taking action as well. On March 23rd, people in over 50 communities all across Canada flooded the offices of Liberal MPs and Cabinet Ministers to deliver water samples from the coast of British Columbia. Thousands participated all across the country to call on their MPs to stand up to defend the water from Kinder Morgan. They truly proved that resistance to Kinder Morgan stretches from coast to coast and that this project most certainly is not in our national interest.
Then, just this Tuesday, community members in Ottawa staged an occupation at the office of federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna. They held space until the Minister agreed to pay a visit to the Coast Salish Watch House on Burnaby Mountain — date is to be confirmed. The Ottawa-based residents pledged to visit the office again to hold the Minister to her word.
A Global Fight
Since March 23rd, people around the world began sending emails to and calling Canadian embassies with a message that Kinder Morgan is not in our global interest. Over 20,000 messages have poured in to Canadian embassies from all around the world.
After almost 3 weeks of unprecedented resistance to Kinder Morgan, Coast Salish spiritual leaders called for a week of ceremony before resuming bold actions. Already, this week has brought healing, and strengthened resilience as the Watch House welcomes guests from across the Lower Mainland for prayer, spiritual resistance, and community events. To learn more about events at the Watch House, click here.
Giving Trudeau a West Coast Welcome
In other plans, when Prime Minister Trudeau pays a visit to Vancouver for a fundraiser on April 5th, we’re planning to give him a real welcome by showing him that he’s bound to lose all support here on the Salish Coast if he continues backing Kinder Morgan. Click here to join.
Resistance is here to stay.
And on a final note, resistance to Kinder Morgan is here to stay. Bold actions will continue on Burnaby Mountain until we stop Kinder Morgan from trampling over Indigenous rights, devastating the coast, and wrecking our climate by building its TransMountain pipeline and tanker project. To join bold actions or to donate to the Watch House, click here.