In what many are describing as the largest demonstration in Vancouver since 2003's anti-war protests, more than 5,000 people rallied and marched Saturday, in an inspiring procession of solidarity to Stop Kinder Morgan that stretched over 10 city blocks—covering the entire length of the Cambie Street bridge. This comes amidst a wave of solidarity actions across the country, with more than 25 vigils nationwide planned for November 21.
A $6.8-million black snake is threatening the lands and lives of Indigenous people and settlers across BC, it is owned by Kinder Morgan, and it is tempting Trudeau to break yet another of the promises he made to get elected Prime Minister.
Busses came from the Okanagan and Victoria loaded with activists ready to join the march. Indigenous leaders and activists, environmentalists, socialists, students, trade unionists and members of government were all gathered to raise their voices in saying no to this pipeline.
Musqueam activist and Climate Convergence organiser Audrey Siegl set the tone for the day stating “No more negotiations or compromises.”
Tsleil-Waututh elder Amy George pointed out the corruption of the Trudeau government, a government not for and by the people but “a government by who’s got the money – the billionaires” that stands by as “our mother (Earth) is being raped” by the likes of Kinder Morgan. In closing she reminded the thousands listening that “it’s up to the people” to bring real change.
Tsleil-Waututh youth Cedar George-Parker, son of Chief Reuben George, praised the diversity of the crowd and argued that Kinder Morgan is just one part of a bigger picture that affects more than just First Nations. “It’s not an us problem, it’s an everyone problem.” “When will it end? When people start dying? They already are dying!..Rise up, let’s bring a Standing Rock to Vancouver!”
Vancouver Mayor, Gregor Robertson described the action as “the most important meeting we’ve had at City Hall in our history.”
Hundreds of UBC students led a procession to the opening rally following a mass bike ride. UBC student Kate Hodgson, one of the leaders of last year’s heroic divestment campaign, related how as a first time voter in the last federal election she had put her hopes in Trudeau and was now deeply disappointed. “This is not the leadership I voted for!...If the government isn’t going to lead in climate justice, then we will have to take its place!”
March & banner drop
The march rang out with chants as cars honked their horns in support. “Hey-hey, Trudeau! Kinder Morgan’s got to go!” Countless banners, placards, and flags were carried in through the wind. “No consent, no pipeline,” “Stop Trudeau’s pipeline,” “Climate justice now,” “System change not climate change,” “Keep it in the ground,” “Youth against Kinder Morgan,” and more.
From the bridge an immense 180 foot banner made of giant red letters was dropped over the edge stating simply “No Kinder Morgan.” As it was flown over the side of the bridge, over a dozen kayaktivists floated below with yellow anti-Kinder Morgan banners waving.
As marchers entered Library square a drum circle was formed, performing a powerful rendition of the constitution song and ending with a prayer. “They have no business doing business here without our consent,” began Joan Phillip, of the Penticton Indian Band. She touched the hearts of the listening marchers with the fact that “our future generations are depending on us to stop this now.” And in referencing the recent US election of Trump, stated: “Trudeau is not too far behind him.”
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip told the crowd of thousands he was happy to see such a diversity of people and stated that the “common purpose of mankind is to defend Mother Earth.” “We must give support and solidarity to the courageous people at Standing Rock.” “Kinder Morgan is to continue to enrich the 1% at the expense of the 99%.” After starting a “No means no” chant, he then took aim at Christy Clarke calling on everyone to “Dump Clarke.”
Phillip then led a Coast Protector’s Pledge (http://www.coastprotectors.ca) which was recited by thousands in the crowd: “With our voice, in the courts or on the streets, on the water or the land. Whatever it takes, we will stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.” Within 36 hours of the website’s launch Friday night more than 2,500 people had signed the pledge online and hundreds more signed on paper at the march. The pledge will be used to organize further mass mobilizations and offer civil disobedience training in the event Trudeau approves the pipeline.
Buckets were passed following the Phillip’s speech and nearly $4000 dollars in donations were collected to support spill recovery and legal costs for Heiltsuk Nation and for Secwepemc activist Jody Leon's Bus to Standing Rock leaving December 9th to carry 33 water protectors and winter supplies to the Sacred Stone Camp.
Melina Laboucan-Massimo, of the Lubicon Cree Nation and Greenpeace, argued that greed is incompatible to a sustainable planet. Trudeau can no longer say he wants to build new relationships with Indigenous communities, she went on, if he goes through with this pipeline. “We will not let this pipeline pass.”
Jody Leon, the Secwepemc activist who organized a bus and carpool to bring nearly 50 people down from Vernon and Kamploops, declared “Kinder Morgan pipeline is a threat to the water. Our water is sacred and we are first connected to it through our mothers. Water is what gives us life and is our medicine. Water and Oil do not mix and we as indigenous people are making it known worldwide that industry is not welcome to take away the last remnants of our culture that are connected to the land.” She followed with a chant of “You can’t drink oil, keep it in the soil.”
Burnaby Mayor, Derrick Corrigan, who missed the birth of two grandchildren to be at the rally stated, “my grandchildren are why I must be here” drawing huge cheers from the crowd as he stated “we’ll continue to fight Kinder Morgan to the bitter end. If it gets passed I’ll be standing in front of the bulldozers!”
Green Party leader Elizabeth May enthusiastically echoed Corrigan stating that she would “be going to jail” if Kinder Morgan tried to begin construction.
Guy Johnston, member of the United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union stated: “I have been a fisherman for over 40 years. As fishermen we observe the sea, tides and fish so we know where and when and how to fish. Starting over 20 years ago the patterns, the weather, the runs sizes and timing, even the fish themselves started to change. Looking back now we realize climate change is a large factor behind the changes we are seeing. To preserve our coastal way of life, the eco system that sustained humans on this coast for thousands of years, we need to stop the tankers. To sustain life as we know it on this planet we need to leave the oil in the ground.”
“This is a wakeup call,” cried the young Saul Brown, of Heiltsuk Nation, decrying the devastating impact of a recent diesel spill after a tug boat crashed next to their clam beds near Bella Bella, exposing the complete lack of adequate spill response on BC’s coast. “It’s the Indigenous communities that bear the brunt of environmental destruction, and will if Kinder Morgan is put forward.” Brown called on everyone to not just plan for the next oil spill but to make the world a place where there never will be any because we won’t rely on oil. Once finished Saul’s father Frank Brown jumped to the mic and quickly made the brilliant call: “We have to hold the line for the future or else we have no future!”
Fifteen year old musician and activist Takaya Blaney of the Tla’amin Nation pointed out that Indigenous youth are often told by society that they are incompatible with modern society. Addressing her fellow Indigenous youth, she said “You come from a generation of fighters…We will not just ask, but demand accountability.”
Trudeau has promised a decision would be made on the pipeline by December 19 but rumours are that a decision will come by the end of the month. People’s Climate Convergence has set an emergency rally at 5pm by the CBC building, at Hamilton and West Georgia on the day Trudeau approves the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline and are calling for anti-pipeline activists across Canada and Quebec to do the same. Come what may, the people across BC have given their answer: No consent, no pipeline.