BURNABY, B.C. – Protesters around Vancouver held duelling rallies on Saturday, some welcoming Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project with others decrying it.
Hours after First Nation leaders marched with thousands of anti-pipeline activists in Burnaby, B.C., about 200 pro-pipeliners, including a busload of Albertans and a group from Fort St. John, gathered downtown to speak in favour of the resource infrastructure.
— Nick Eagland (@nickeagland) March 10, 2018
Stewart Muir, who spoke in favour of the $7.4-billion project as the executive director for the Resource Works Society, said it doesn’t have to be a decision between the environment and economy.
“Canada can have both. We can have the environment protected and respected and we can have the economic benefits that will allow Canada to be in future what it has been in the past,” Muir said.
But protesters against the pipeline told a different story. Indigenous leaders beat drums and sang out against the project, saying they wouldn’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 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.
— CTV Vancouver (@CTVVancouver) March 10, 2018
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 traditional watch-house” they were building at Burnaby Mountain to oversee work by Kinder Morgan.
George explained that Coast Salish First Nations would traditionally build a watch-house 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.”
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.
(THE CANADIAN PRESS)