What a glorious weekend! As spring sprung on the B.C. coast, thousands upon thousands of coast protectors streamed into Coast Salish Territories/Vancouver on March 10th in support of Kwekwecnewtxw: Indigenous resistance to Kinder Morgan.
The Tsleil Waututh Nation, supported by Indigenous Nations from the Arctic to the St. Lawrence to Standing Rock, erected a “Watch House” on Burnaby Mountain and declared the beginning of a new phase of civil disobedience. We urge you to visit ProtectheInlet.ca to find out how you can get involved.
As the fight against Kinder Morgan shifts in the wake of the Watch House and Protect the Inlet calls to action, we wanted to update you about the Pull Together campaign and legal strategies that continue to play a vital role in the strategy to defeat the pipeline and tankers project.
History + Enbridge
RAVEN launched Pull Together in 2014 with the Sierra Club BC to fight the Enbridge Northern Gateway project. We knew from the Tsilqot’in victory that First Nations legal challenges were the most strategic way to push back against Harpers’ agenda to bring tarsands oil to the coast. And for the first time, a powerful alliance of Indigenous Nations were ready to join forces to kick Big Oil out of traditional lands and waters.
Rather than set ourselves up as what Christy Clark crassly called the Forces of No, we framed the campaign around the fun, solidarity and joy that comes from being part of a movement grounded in love for place, love for people, and the joyful realization of people-power. We are the forces of yes: yes to clean power, yes to Indigenous leadership, yes to a livable future, yes to future generations. Yes to chocolate, yes to beer limbo, yes to yoga, yes to improv theatre, yes to clothing swaps, yes to Thunderpants speed dating. We invited you and the full force of BC’s creative, kickass culture got seriously down for the action.
Who knew stopping a pipeline could be so much fun? Thousands of people got involved in all kinds of ridiculous profound and beautiful ways, and ultimately Indigenous legal challenges by 7 Nations stopped the Northern Gateway pipeline.
Phase 2: Kinder Morgan
The Kinder Morgan project approval ignited the second phase of the Pull Together campaign. You’d think that a tarsands pipeline and tankers project running straight through the downtown corridor of Vancouver, the greenest city, would be a no-go, no-brainer. But the ‘forces of oil’ are slick and the marketing of this project has ridden on the coattails of a charismatic Prime Minister who sold it as a necessary trade-off. The same day he announced that we won, and that our indigenous legal challenges had finally killed Enbridge, Trudeau approved Kinder Morgan.
What’s wrong with Kinder Morgan?
Just about everybody here knows why we have to fight this project. A carbon corridor to Asia through Vancouver is a climate time bomb that locks us in, financially and policy-wise, with tarsands expansion for the next generation. Indigenous peoples along the pipeline and tankers route are divided in their opposition but the ones who are part of the Pull Together legal fundraising — the Tsleil Waututh, Squamish, Coldwater and Secwepemc Nations — are 100% committed. As Coldwater Chief Lee Spahan says, this is our Standing Rock .
How we’re winning
So far, People have held bake sales, hosted clothing swaps, produced concerts, held poetry readings, sold hot sauce, and walked from Victoria to Burnaby. Organizers have held a series of “Pints not Pipelines” pub nights. 60 Moksha yoga studios held “speak your peace’ events and raised $35,000. Swimmer Rama Delarosa swam 80km around Salt Spring Island, raised $14k and was joined on one leg of her journey by an orca whale. All of these actions gave us powerful stories to share about the lengths people would go to to protect the “national interest”.
We ARE the forces of Yes. We are saying yes to indigenous rights, yes to clean water, yes to future generations and yes to a clean energy transition.
There are some very special people involved in this campaign. These people go beyond this idea of feel good reconciliation. They took personal risks and gave their time and creativity to stand with First Nations: that’s redress. These people had the courage to reached out through their personal networks by setting up online fundraisers to convince their friends and family that Kinder Morgan is a bad idea, and that First Nations legal challenges are our best chance to kill the project. These people are unstoppable: together we’ve raised $650k and counting for Indigenous justice.
While it’s immediately about raising money, Pull Together is also about building a movement of people working in solidarity : Indigenous people and settlers, people from intersecting patches of the social justice tapestry, and anyone who can see that a healthy economy and bright future is tied to a wind-down of tar sands and fossil fuel extraction and a shift to a renewable energy future.
Right now, we’re waiting for the ruling from court challenges that were heard last October. We expect that no matter how the judge rules, we’ll be going back to court on appeal. So, we’re still quietly amassing funds for the next round in the fight. Visit pull-together.ca to join in. Hold a bakesale. Have a spring garage sale. Donate a day’s wages. Do what you love to protect what you love.
Pull together is just one thread in the resistance to Kinder Morgan. Fundraising for legal challenges is one of the important ways you are being called to step up and stand with Indigenous Peoples, and although it can feel overwhelming, we must carry on. As Linda Black Elk of Catawba Nation, speaking at the Protect the Inlet rally on March 10th said, “We can’t get tired now. We’ve been fighting for generations as Indigenous Peoples. You need to carry on with us, no matter how exhausting it sometimes feels. I was pepper sprayed 13 times at Standing Rock. But I kept getting up the next day. From here, I go to fight. Are you with me?”
Thank you each and every one of you for doing what you love to protect what you love. Together, we can beat Kinder Morgan. Many Paddles: One Canoe.