Indigenous leaders erect traditional ‘Watch House’ near Kinder Morgan Pipeline route: Trudeau’s pipeline approval a major threat to reconciliation
March 10, 2018, Coast Salish Territory/Burnaby, BC – Local Indigenous people today erected a traditional Coast Salish Watch House near Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline route. Watch Houses have been used since time immemorial to guard territory from danger. This was followed by a 10,000 strong march of supporters to the site, with Indigenous leaders calling Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approval of the pipeline “a major step backwards” in their relations and for the climate.
“My ancestors built Kwekwecnewtxw — ‘a place to watch from’ — when danger threatened our people. Danger threatens our people now, as Kinder Morgan tries to send hazardous diluted bitumen through our territory. Today we build our own watchhouse to protect the Salish Sea and the people who depend on it,” said Will George, a Tsleil-Waututh member.
Kwekwecnewtxw – Protect the Inlet, was the largest-ever show of opposition to Kinder Morgan’s planned expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project. Led by Indigenous peoples from across Canada and the United States — including the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake, Athabaska Chipewyan Nation, and Ihanktonwan Dakota and Chickasaw Nations — the march wound its way from Lake City Way Skytrain Station, finishing at a rally at the Watch House site where Grand Chief Stewart Phillip called on the crowd to join him in escalating action to stop Kinder Morgan in the coming days.
“We are gathering today to send a clear message to Kinder Morgan and Justin Trudeau that indigenous peoples across North America and British Columbians will never let this pipeline be built,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip. “I call on everyone in the crowd today and watching from home to join us in escalating action to stop Kinder Morgan in the coming days. Rachel Notley, we are not in the least bit intimidated by your desperate threats and we will not stop!”
Construction of the Watch house will continue through the day and into the night, with organizers expecting to be finished by Monday. Once completed, the Watch House will be a base for ongoing opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said we can protect the water, the coasts, and the climate while still building new tar sands pipelines like Kinder Morgan. But I came here to join with other water protectors to say that he’s wrong,” said Autumn Peltier, a 13-year old internationally recognized water ambassador from Wikwemikong First Nation in northern Ontario.
She spoke on behalf of the 150 First Nations and US Tribes that have signed the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion in opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline, as well as Keystone XL and Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline.
The Kinder Morgan pipeline project would bring 400 Aframax tankers to the BC coast annually. A tanker spill would devastate British Columbia’s coastal waters, including the 76 endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales who call it home. A new heavy oil pipeline would drive emissions higher while Canada is already failing its climate commitments.
Photos and more information available at protectheinlet.ca, or please contact:
Protect the Inlet Media Liaison