Native-led oil pipeline protest draws hundreds to Vancouver Art Gallery

IAN AUSTIN
The Province
March 26, 2012



Protesters marching through downtown Vancouver Monday promised to fight big oil and big government and put a stop to proposed pipeline expansions in B.C.

Chanting native elders wearing button blankets and pounding drums led more than 300 marchers to the Vancouver Art Gallery for a noon rally where they were joined by hundreds more.

Pipelines proposed by Kinder Morgan and Enbridge require First Nations support, and if Monday’s rally is any indication there is plenty of opposition in that camp.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip was one of many high-powered native leaders who said Prime Minister Stephen Harper has bitten off more than he can chew if he thinks more oil tankers will be allowed on B.C.’s west coast.

“We all know this government is a few clowns short of a circus, and that this fight will intensify,” said

Phillip. “I will tell my grandchildren that you were here today, and we will win this, and we will make this a better world.”

Coastal First Nations president Art Sterritt said First Nations are not prepared to risk their ancestral homelands to deliver profits to greedy oil companies.

“We’ve been here for over 10,000 years, and we will never leave,” said Sterritt. “Democracy is alive and well in British Columbia.

“We will stop this black plague from saturating our province.

“We cannot fail . . . we will not fail.”

Bill McKibben of 350.org said the U.S. moratorium on the controversial Keystone oil pipeline shows the potential of people power.

“We had 1253 people arrested in the biggest display of civil disobedience in 30 years,” said McKibben. “Big oil has all the money in the world, so we need a different currency — passion, spirit, and creativity. “This is one of the great issues of our generation.”

Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh said First Nations rely on clean water as an essential part of their everyday life.

“I played in the water, I swam in the water, I canoed in the water, and I eat from the water,” said George, speaking for children from all walks of life - even the pipeline proponents’ kids.

“This is for your children, this is for my children. We’re doing it for Kinder Morgan’s children, so they can have clean air and clean water.”

The federal and B.C. governments both seem supportive of pipeline expansions as a means of building job opportunities, but persistent opposition has decried building a pipeline over the Rocky Mountains and the prospect of more oil supertankers on B.C.’s largely unspoiled coastline.

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