Edmonton, AB – Kinder Morgan recently announced halting ‘non-essential’ work on the Trans Mountain pipeline prompting Premier Notley’s response that Alberta is prepared to do ‘whatever it takes’ including buying shares in the pipeline. Prime Minister Trudeau has now taken a bold position vowing the “Trans Mountain pipeline extension will be built.” All of this is precipitated by mounting legal challenges and weeks of concerted pressure and opposition led by Indigenous communities and supported by non-Indigenous peoples in Coast Salish territory (Burnaby BC). Tomorrow, April 11th, 2018, land defenders plan to continue bold actions at the gates of Kinder Morgan.
Indigenous Climate Action (ICA), an Indigenous-led climate justice initiative in Canada supports the frontlines efforts of land defenders and water protectors being taken on Coast Salish territory to halt the Kinder Morgan pipeline and recognizes these effort as critical to bringing attention to actions against the source, the Alberta tar sands, and the climate crisis.
“We see this as a moment to reflect on the power of the people and our relentless struggle for the preservation of the sacred. However, we must continue to hold the line to ensure governments and oil and gas companies don’t continue to trample our rights and destroy our lands and waterways. Indigenous communities along the pipeline route have said enough is enough and we will continue to support their efforts to preserve their lands and territories, critical for climate stabilization. The actions of Premiere Notley and Prime Minister Trudeau have made it clear that Indigenous communities are the only leaders prepared to take real action on climate in this country,” Eriel Deranger, ICA Executive Director.
ICA founders, women from tar sands impacted communities and co-founders of the Tar Sands Healing Walk, relate to the struggle playing out on the coast. There is renewed hope that the challenges of the Kinder Morgan pipeline on the coast will bring attention to the ongoing climate and rights issues that Indigenous communities near the tar sands face.
“For years our communities have attended consultation meeting after consultation meeting with governments, oil and gas corporations, and environmental groups to talk about ending the tar sands expansion in our territories. Yet, projects continued to be approved year after year. We have witnessed the devastation caused by these projects in our homelands – from the direct assault on our forest, which safeguard our climate and waterways, to the socio-economic impacts its had on our people and our culture. The bold actions taken by communities on Coast Salish territory has become necessary for our concerns and voices to be heard and taken seriously,” stated Melina Laboucan Massimo, ICA co-founder, David Suzuki Fellow, and member of the Lubicon Cree Nation.
The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion will triple the capacity to transport fossil fuels from the Alberta tar sands to the BC coast connecting the struggles of Indigenous communities along its path.
“Right now the largest ever proposed tar sands mine, the Teck Resources Frontier Mine, is undergoing a review seeking approval in Alberta. The Teck Frontier project has already sought partnerships with Kinder Morgan and TransCanada to transport their oil to market, truly tieing our struggles together. As Indigenous communities mount efforts to stop the construction of the pipeline, communities in Alberta are tirelessly challenging the continued expansion. We must work together to find solutions that benefit all communities equally,” added Deranger.
The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, like Teck Frontier Mine and other proposed tar sands projects, lack full investments and the social and legal licence to build. Notley and Trudeau have demonstrated their attachment to continue “business as usual” in Alberta’s tar sands despite mounting pressure from global climate movements to move away from fossil fuel projects. Global climate movement trends are pushing for sustainable projects created under Just Transition model that supports climate stabilization while upholding Indigenous Rights.
Last week, Prime Minister Trudeau visited the Alberta tar sands to champion the continued expansion of the project, focusing his efforts on getting “international investment”, and utilized the Kinder Morgan pipeline as an example of ‘big projects’ that will be built under his leadership. This is a complete 180° on the political platform the Liberal party was voted in on – to protect the environment, take bold action on climate issues, and repair the relationship with Indigenous communities.
“The Canadian government has failed to live up to their promises. It’s time to listen and stand with our brothers and sister on the coast and reevaluate our relationship with the sacred. Indigenous peoples are advocating for real change tied to the protection of our rights and action on climate. It’s time to put an end to carbon-intensive projects like the tar sands and move towards true just transition that respects Indigenous people, human rights and the limits of our Earth,” added Clayton Thomas Muller, Stop-it-at-Source Campaigner 350.org and ICA Steering Committee member.
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