By Cara McKenna
Several thousand people marched in Vancouver in opposition to Kinder Morgan on Saturday, Nov. 19, as many prepare to face arrest if the pipeline project is approved.
The unprecedentedly huge rally drew Indigenous people from diverse nations across Western Canada who spoke, sang and drummed alongside politicians on all levels who oppose the pipeline.
The display of opposition came just weeks before the federal government’s deadline of Dec. 19 to make a final decision on Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
The project would nearly triple the capacity of the pipeline that carries crude oil from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C., and increase tanker traffic in the Burrard Inlet by sevenfold.
Amy George, an Elder from Tsleil-Waututh nation on the Burrard Inlet, told the crowd that a tanker spill would devastate her territory’s already ravaged shoreline.
“We’re the people of the inlet. We’ve been there for 30,000 years,” she said.
“I hope [Prime Minister Justin Trudeau] is sitting down and watching this because there’s too many of us saying no. We are the people, and we are the ones this is going to affect.”
After George spoke at Vancouver City Hall, people marched en masse to Library Square, walking over the Cambie Bridge and closing roads.
Later, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs launched a campaign that encourages people to pledge to do “whatever it takes” to stop the pipeline if it’s approved.
Anyone who signs up at www.coastprotectors.ca will be added to a list that will join together to create strategies and stand on the front lines to stop the project.
By Monday afternoon, nearly 3,000 people had signed on.
At the rally, several prominent politicians vowed to risk arrest if construction on the Kinder Morgan expansion begins, including Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.
Corrigan has been a prominent opponent of the project in the courts and at National Energy Board hearings, and he said he will continue to fight in any way he can.
“If Trudeau pushes this pipeline through and this pipeline begins going through Burnaby Mountain, through our conservation area, through our park, I’ll be standing in front of the bulldozers,” he vowed.
“I want to know how many of you will be standing there with me.”
UBCIC president, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, told the crowd that he believes that mass displays of opposition of big oil being seen now, from B.C. to Standing Rock, were prophesized centuries ago by Indigenous leaders.
“What we’re witnessing here today is the beginning of something incredibly powerful,” he said.
“Hundreds of years ago it was prophesized that the day would come that all the races of mankind would come together for a common purpose and that common purpose would be to defend Mother Earth.
“I believe that those times are upon us now.”
A mass rally against Kinder Morgan's proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion begins at Vancouver City Hall on Nov. 19.
Jody Leon of Secwepemc First Nation dances as she leads the crowd of protesters through downtown Vancouver on Nov. 19.
A masked woman leads a crowd of several thousand people marching across the Cambie Bridge on Nov. 19 in opposition of Kinder Morgan's proposed pipeline expansion.
Audrey Siegl of Musqueam First Nation holds up a drum among a crowd of protesters on Vancouver's Cambie Bridge on Nov. 19.
A man shares a moment with his young daughter as they march across Vancouver's Cambie Bridge in opposition to Kinder Morgan's proposed pipeline expansion on Nov. 19.
Cedar George-Parker (centre), a youth from Tsleil-Waututh Nation, speaks to a crowd at Vancouver City Hall with his grandmother Amy George (right) and UBCIC Grand Chief Steward Phillip (left).