BURNABY, B.C. – Protesters at an anti-pipeline camp in Burnaby, B.C., say they will meet with officials to discuss safety measures, but they will not comply with a city-issued evacuation order.
The City of Burnaby says there are safety concerns surrounding “Camp Cloud,” including a two-storey wooden watch house and a fire that protesters describe as sacred and ceremonial.
Protest organizer Kwitsel Tatel says the participants will not leave, nor will they extinguish their fire.
Tatel suggests the structures around the camp’s sacred fire could be modified if only to refocus the attention away from the physical camp and back to the anti-pipeline protest.
She adds that snuffing out the fire would constitute a breaking of both B.C. Supreme Court and Coast Salish law.
The protesters say the city’s notice, which was issued on Wednesday and expired early Saturday, was written without adequate consideration of a recent court decision or consultation with camp residents.
The B.C. Supreme Court ruled in March that both the camp and a nearby watch house could remain in place in response to a court injunction filed by Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd., the company behind the Trans Mountain expansion project.
Tatel said the residents of the camp have had conversations with the City of Burnaby about the demands set out in the eviction notice, and they are willing to negotiate in good faith. But she said the city has not engaged in those discussions.
“The executive assistant to (Burnaby Mayor) Derek Corrigan came many times with orders instead of questions and concerns. I’m respectfully announcing that is not good faith discussion or negotiation,” Tatel said Saturday.
She added that they spoke with the City of Burnaby fire department overnight about the sacred fire, and that a load of timber would be dropped off by the department.
Tatel said she will request federal intervention if need be, citing the protesters’ charter right to peaceful demonstration.
“I’m asking for (federal Justice Minister) Jody Wilson-Raybould to step up and assist, to pull her goons and her dogs,” said Tatel
She and several other camp residents said they saw between 30 and 60 “paramilitary” individuals in and around “Camp Cloud” and the woods around the Kinder Morgan tanker terminal late Friday night, and said additional audio and video surveillance near the entrance to the terminal had recently been installed.
Demonstrators are angry over the expansion of the pipeline between Alberta and B.C. that would triple its capacity to carry bitumen destined for export.
In May, the federal government announced it would buy the pipeline in an effort to see the expansion completed.
(THE CANADIAN PRESS)