Indige­nous Peo­ples rise up to pro­tect re­sources

StarMetro Vancouver - - Views - Jas­mine Ka­batay

by Ja­son Lo­gan When it comes to the land and its nat­u­ral re­sources, Indige­nous Peo­ples have al­ways fought to pro­tect it.

That sense of duty, and ten­sions boil­ing over, can be seen from re­cent demon­stra­tions at Stand­ing Rock to El­si­pog­tog First Na­tion in New Brunswick fight­ing against frack­ing in 2013.

Now the bat­tle­ground is shap­ing up in B.C. Satur­day in Burn­aby thou­sands of peo­ple marched against the Kinder Mor­gan Trans Moun­tain pipe­line, which would triple the flow of oil from 300,000 bar­rels to 890,000, Rueben Ge­orge of the Tsleil-wau­tuth First Na­tion re­port­edly told the crowd.

The num­ber of peo­ple who came out to protest this pipe­line, both Indige­nous and non-indige­nous, shows me that maybe this project isn’t be­ing built in the in­ter­est of Cana­di­ans.

I per­son­ally don’t agree with pipe­lines — I think they’re short-term in­vest­ments that do more harm in the long run that isn’t made up for with short­term ben­e­fits like jobs that don’t last.

But I do un­der­stand where pro-pipe­line peo­ple are com­ing from: The project could cre­ate work and help our econ­omy. But at what cost? The in­come won’t last a fam­ily for a life­time, but the reper­cus­sions might ex­tend that long, and be­yond.

No mat­ter how safe or en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly they at­tempt to make this pipe­line, it could burst and harm wildlife and the en­vi­ron­ment. To me it’s not a ques­tion of if, but when.

Even the beloved Bill Nye (The Science Guy) thinks the pipe­line is a bad

STEPHEN KING idea, telling re­porters af­ter speak­ing on a panel with Justin Trudeau that, “The pipe­line is, in the big pic­ture, bad.”

But as this pipe­line project goes on, so does the con­flict.

And his­tory tends to re­peat it­self when Indige­nous Peo­ples want to pro­tect the land, of­ten lead­ing to shows of force from those who want to build.

About 200 peo­ple par­tic­i­pated in a pro-pipe­line event on Satur­day. And on Fri­day, the B.C. Supreme Court granted an in­terim in­junc­tion to Trans Moun­tain to pre­vent pro­test­ers from com­ing within 50 me­tres of two ter­mi­nal con­struc­tion sites.

Dur­ing the protest on Satur­day, Indige­nous lead­ers spoke to the crowd telling them for the fu­ture, they should be pre­pared to “cross the line” and face pos­si­ble ar­rest.

That’s not to say pro­test­ers are look­ing for a fight. Many are employing tra­di­tional tac­tics and peace­ful means to make their point.

Pro­test­ers built a “watch house” on the pipe­line path over the week­end, employing a tac­tic the Coast Sal­ish First Na­tions tra­di­tion­ally used to watch for en­e­mies, pro­test­ers told The Cana­dian Press.

Late last year, pro­tes­tors dub­bing them­selves the Tiny House War­riors set up mo­bile homes on the pipe­line’s route through the Secwepemc Na­tion, in an at­tempt to de­ter the con­struc­tion.

But if, or when, these peace­ful protests go south with vi­o­lence, like they did in Stand­ing Rock and El­si­pog­tog, will any­body be sur­prised?

Jas­mine Ka­batay

is an Ojib­way jour­nal­ist based in Toronto, orig­i­nally from Seine River First Na­tion.

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