Lummi Leads Cross-Border Action and Solidarity to stop TMX

Amid a climate crisis, the assertion of Indigenous rights in the courts is a powerful tool that supersedes electoral politics. Parties may come and go, but legal precedents leave an enduring legacy for future generations.  

We’ve seen  four years of politics that touted a ‘reconciliation agenda’ — while steamrolling Indigenous nation’s concerns about expanding pipelines.  In the wake of a Canadian election that returned a minority government to Trudeau’s pro-pipeline Liberals, there are now promising opportunities to form coalitions across parties, and across borders. 

The environmental and social  impacts of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project don’t  stop at the Canadian/US border: nor does solidarity between Indigenous Nations and their allies. As Indigenous blues legend Pura Fe sings, “We didn’t cross the border: the border crossed us.”

The movement to Pull Together and stop the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion is sweeping across borders, led by Indigneous leaders whose resilience and commitment to foster a world in balance cannot be  are not swayed by the politics of Big Oil. 

Last month, on September 27th, on the day of the global Climate Strike, Tribal and First Nations led the call to protect and heal the Salish Sea at “Netse Mot: One Mind for Xw’ullemy,” an event held on both land and water at the Canadian/US border. 

“The Salish Sea flows as one sea,” said Jeremiah (Jay) Julius, Chairman of the Lummi Nation. “The salmon, our qwe’lhol’mechen (orcas), our kinship ties, our traditional cultures and languages, do not recognize the line between Canada and the United States. We are all connected and must work together.”Chairman Julius, as part of his remarks, read aloud the recently signed Proclamation declaring March 21, 2020 to be Netse Mot Xw’ullemy Day.

Dozens of kayakers gathered on the Salish Sea and formed a unity circle, defying the colonial US-Canada border. Leaders gathered and shared their vision for a better world and reminded attendees of our collective responsibility to protect the land and water. Prayers were offered, music reverberated from the dock, many visited the qwe’lhol’mechen (orca) commemorative walkway and community mural. 

“I’m honored to be a part of the work we’ve been doing for thousands of years, since time out of mind, explaining our law, how we work with spirit, how we have a relationship with all that’s part of nature.” said Rueben George of Tsleil-Waututh Nation.  “We have a word in our language for how my relations to move forward with you: naut’sa mawt. One heart, one mind, one prayer.”

“Our work is to protect and heal,” said Raynell Morris. “We protect by protesting projects like the Trans Mountain Pipeline and Roberts Bank Terminal 2 up in Canada, and Navy testing and Tacoma LNG plant in the US. We heal by spiritually feeding qwe’lhol’mechen and working to make them whole, and by bringing our relation Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut (the captive orca Tokitae/Lolita) home. We heal by fulfilling our xa xalh xechnging (sacred obligation).”

Lummi’s Proclamation declares March 21, 2020 day of Netse Mot Xw’ullemny:  

“The Lummi people know the sacred teachings of the ancestors regarding our traditional territory, its ancient villages and the Xw’ullemy (Salish Sea)… This proclamation speaks with One Mind (Netse Mot) for our sacred obligation (Xa Xalh Xechnging) to the Salish Sea (Xw’ullemy) and for the unity of the Creation known through the Lummi language as Elhtel’nexw, that signifies the order of creation and the placement of our ancestors.

Through her children the qwe’lhol mechen (Blackfish), the salmon, the herring, and other lifeforms Xw’ullemy are calling out in a time of great peril, and that individuals from different walks of life and diverse cultural histories, beliefs and backgrounds who call the Xw’ullemy (Salish Sea) home are Netse Mot (of One Mind) that is our obligation to this precious and irreplaceable gift from the Creator, that it be restored, preserved and passed on to future generations; 

We declare March 21 Netse Mot Xw’ullemy Day to recognize the historical ties and cultural affinity of the peoples’ of Xw’ullemy to these sacred waters and do hereby, and on this each year, bear witness to our resolve to stand by our sacred obligation and ensure Xw’ullemy is restored and protected.”

We are grateful for our Lummi neighbors, their powerful leadership and assertion of their inherent rights. 

Join Pull Together as an organizer, fundraiser, or donor and be part of the profound and historic joining of hands of Salish Sea peoples.

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