8 reasons to hold hope in the fight against Kinder Morgan.
Last week, Prime Minister Trudeau approved the Kinder Morgan tar sands pipeline despite opposition by 59 First Nations, 22 municipalities, 9 city mayors, cabinet ministers & MPs within his party, and hundreds of thousands of people across the continent. Not only is there stark opposition to the project, it would be devastating for the climate. Building the Kinder Morgan pipeline would be the emissions equivalent of adding 34 million cars to Canada’s roads. Evidently, in making this decision, Trudeau decided to choose Big Oil over people. But it’s not game over yet.
We know that people-powered resistance has the power to stop this project in its tracks. Here are a series of videos that provide an inspirational glimpse into some of the most pivotal moments from the Kinder Morgan fight so far. These are some of the reasons to hold hope that we have what it takes to win this fight.
1. First Nations committing to stop this project “in any way possible.”
The water and land that the Tsleil Waututh Nation depends on are threatened by the Kinder Morgan pipeline, and members of this community have pledged to act “in any way possible” to stop this pipeline. This community isn’t alone. Just last week, Grand Chief Stewart Philip from the Union of BC Indian Chiefs swore to stand with over 10,000 dedicated water protectors to “do what needs to be done to stop Kinder Morgan”.
2. British Columbia is building up its skills.
People in BC suspected that the usual petitions, rallies, and marches might not be enough to stop this pipeline. That’s why months before the Kinder Morgan decision was even announced, hundreds of people in the province joined Non-Violent Direct Action and Kayaktivist trainings to build up their skills and prepare for the need to stand with communities on the frontlines. Now that Trudeau has given Kinder Morgan the green light, we can anticipate thousands more across the province and beyond to join in and skill up for creative direct action.
3. The diversity of the movement opposing Kinder Morgan is its strength.
The movement to #StopKM is one of the most diverse and far reaching campaigns in Canada that I can name right now. Just over the last couple of months, high school students have taken the lead in organizing rallies and vigils to stop KM, and the Prime Minister himself has been directly confronted by elementary school teachers and young workers criticizing his support for the pipeline. And now, he’s facing even greater and more escalated opposition: grandmothers have sworn to lie down in front of bulldozers, pastors are prepared to put their bodies on the line in opposition (see video below), and even the Burnaby city mayor has pledged to end his political career with civil disobedience to stop this pipeline. When the former premier of BC warned Trudeau that he would have a long fight ahead if he approved Kinder Morgan, he referenced his personal experience facing the ‘war in the woods.’ What went unspoken was that the unprecedented diversity of the Kinder Morgan fight puts it in a completely different league than movements like the conservation fights in BC.
4. Indigenous peoples are not just leading the resistance — they are leading the transition.
Across Canada, solidarity has been mounting for Indigenous communities on the front lines of the fight against the fossil fuel industry from the Coast Salish resistance to Kinder Morgan, to the Mi’kmaq opposition to Energy East in New Brunswick, and the Clyde River community’s legal battle against oil and gas exploration in Nunavut. However, what’s often over looked is that First Nations have also been leaders in the transition to renewable energy. This transition is very much intertwined with the movement against Kinder Morgan. In a beautiful act of solidarity and friendship, Indigenous leaders opposing tar sands expansion across the country convened in Metro Vancouver this Spring to offer a gift of solar panels to the Tsleil Waututh Nation thanking them for leading the Kinder Morgan fight. Indigenous peoples, like the Tsleil Waututh and the Beaverlake Cree First Nation, which solarized days after the Kinder Morgan approval, are proving that a just transition to a clean energy future is absolutely within reach.
5. The scale of opposition is massive.
When the Trudeau government consulted communities along the Kinder Morgan route, more than 90% of the people they spoke to opposed the pipeline. Shortly after these consultations over 4,000 people marched against Kinder Morgan in Vancouver about a week before it was approved by Prime Minister Trudeau. These thousands of participants took a pledge to do what it takes to stop the project. It would be an understatement to say that Trudeau pissed off a lot of people last Tuesday. It would be accurate to conclude that thousands will be prepared to mobilize when it comes to stopping this pipeline from being built.
6. This movement is a national force.
During the UN climate negotiations in Morocco a few weeks ago, the Canadian Youth Delegation disrupted a reception held by Minister of Environment, Catherine McKenna, to deliver signatures from over 210,000 people opposing Kinder Morgan. This moment signified the extent of national opposition to Kinder Morgan. It also left the Minister speechless and clearly embarrassed that Canada’s attempts to paint itself as a climate leader on the international stage had been foiled. A few days afterwards, more than 50 communities across Canada joined a day of KM vigils to tell the PM to reject Kinder Morgan. This was a truly remarkable moment which demonstrated how far the opposition to Kinder Morgan has come. It has grown from a local battle led by Coast Salish First Nations to a truly national fight with people from coast to coast showing solidarity — and prepared to act no matter what.
7. The Youth vs. Trudeau tension is real.
It’s no secret that an unprecedented youth turnout was critical to securing a majority government for Trudeau. Perhaps it’s why he decided to appoint himself as the Minister of Youth shortly after becoming PM. It turns out, this demographic happens to be pretty concerned about things like securing a safe, livable climate and respecting Indigenous rights. In other words, young people across Canada overwhelmingly oppose tar sands pipelines like Kinder Morgan, Line 9, and Energy East. These young people have also proven that their level of political engagement extends well beyond the ballot box. On October 24th, 99 young people were arrested on Parliament Hill calling on Trudeau to reject Kinder Morgan. The very next week, youth in cities across Canada staged sit ins at the offices of key cabinet ministers with influence over the KM decision. These actions coupled with numerous other millennial-led calls for accountability has put into question Trudeau’s carefully choreographed image as the first Prime Minister to really listen to youth voices. At this point, building Kinder Morgan wouldn’t just result in JT losing the youth vote, it could very likely tarnish the foundations on which he has built his entire political career. If Trudeau thinks the kids are going to stay home when the frontlines call — he definitely hasn’t been paying attention to the world outside backroom meetings with the fossil fuel industry.
8. The recent victories for Indigenous-led movements against the Dakota Access and Northern Gateway Pipelines.
This weekend, the US government denied the final permit for the Dakota Access pipeline. This is a huge victory and it is all thanks to the power of Indigenous-led resistance to this project in Standing Rock. The courageous water protectors in North Dakota have proven that peaceful, people-powered resistance can win against the fossil fuel industry. Their conviction has also inspired and mobilized thousands of people across the US, and around the world, who traveled to Standing Rock to stand on the frontlines and who took action in their own communities: filling up streets with solidarity rallies, fundraising to support the water protectors, and demanding divestment from institutions financing this project. Not to mention, right here in Canada, when he approved Kinder Morgan, Prime Minister Trudeau also announced that the Northern Gateway pipeline would not be built. What he didn’t recognize was that, despite approval from the federal government, Northern Gateway was already as good as dead thanks to First Nations legal cases and direct action campaigns. Make no mistake, people involved in the fight against Kinder Morgan have also been acting in solidarity with Standing Rock and communities opposing Gateway. They are learning and drawing inspiration from these fights — and they are prepared to use people-powered action to stop Kinder Morgan.
Now is the moment where we need to hold on to hope more than ever before. It’s our time to use our power to stand up for the land, water, and climate. Will you join this fight? Tell Prime Minister Trudeau that you will do what it takes to stop Kinder Morgan.