Standing up - because the world we were given is a gift.
Updated: Jun 10, 2021
By Diane Lake
The fight for clean water, air and land is a universal struggle by people standing up for themselves and future generations - both humans and all species with whom we share the planet. There is also a growing alignment between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Maybe because growing numbers realize that Indigenous people around the world who are trying to protect their rightful land from the oil and gas companies are also in the process of protecting all of us. Also, science is real, because physics exists, because chemistry matters. British Columbia on the west coast of Canada has been the site of many actions to protect the land and water. The largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history occurred in the early 1990s, when 900 people were arrested while protesting the clearcutting Clayoquot Sound. As the planet has heated up because of fossil fuels and other activities, a big focus has been on pipeline and natural gas. There is no one moment that stops a project, rarely is there just one moment. It took 10 years to stop Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipelines. It took five years to stop The Energy East Pipeline. We'll stop those that follow too.
This is a brief chronology of putting people before profit over the last several years, highlighting actions against pipelines Kinder Morgan/Transmountain, Climate Strikes and the CoastGas Link.
1. June 2014: Rally against Embridge (Northern Gateway) in downtown Vancouver. Unity=Victory: It took 10 years, 9 court challenges and many protests like these to stop the Northern Gateway pipeline from carrying Alberta tar sands bitumen to tidewater and passing through the lands and traditional territories of many First Nations and
coastal communities. By the time it was shelved in 2016, more than 2/3 of British Columbians and 130 First Nations were opposed.
2. November 2014: I'm standing (with hot pink scarf) behind David Suzuki and his grandson Tamo Campo to the left at a rally, the day hundreds of us were arrested on Burnaby Mountain. The charges were later thrown out because Kinder Morgan had its GPS coordinates wrong. Photo credit National Observer.
3. Nov. 19, 2016: Kinder Morgan rally in downtown Vancouver. Landdefenders and water protectors opposing a tar sands pipeline and tanker expansion. Standing up for the environment and sending that message to the federal Liberal government.
4. November 29, 2105: Hundreds of thousands of people at 2,000 rallies around the world, from Sydney to New York, marched to call on world leaders meeting in Paris to agree a strong climate change deal. An estimated 25,000 show up in Vancouver.
5. May 29, 2018: Welcome to Canada's dark colonial past. Rally at Sunset Beach after Justin Trudeau spends billions of our tax dollars to buy out Kinder Morgan, an American oil company, but can't provide safe drinking water on First Nations reserves.
6. Oct. 2018: At the Vancouver courthouse in solidarity with thenearly 250 water and land protectors arrested and jailed for blocking construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline. The jail sentencing continues despite the Federal Court of Appeal quashing approval of the pipeline in late August. The court determined that the pipeline posed an unacceptable risk in allowing diluted bitumen tankers through the Salish Sea, a clear lack of necessary consent from affected First Nations communities and certain death for Southern Resident killer whales.
7. January 8, 2019: This is the greatest thing I have ever seen in the history of all things to be seen that are greatest. Rallies in 67 cities across Canada and internationally to express solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en, protecting their unceded lands from unwanted fracked
gas and colonial violence. The Gidimt’en are one of the five Wet’suwet’en clans, who all oppose the construction of oil and gas pipelines in Wet’suwet’en territory. In December 2018, the Gidimt’en set up a gate to support a peaceful resolution at the Unist’ot’en camp
20 km away, where Coastal Gaslink wants to put the pipeline. RCMP set up nearby the Gidimt’en camp to enforce the interim injunction from the BC Supreme Court in December 2018, which supports Coastal Gaslink beginning construction on a 700 km natural gas pipeline and transformation plant.
8. Feb. 22, 2019: No Means No, Trudeau! Thousands block downtown rush hour traffic to protest the National Energy Board's approval of the Transmountain pipeline. Approval given despite clear science we cannot afford to set off this climate bomb that will further torch the planet.
9. Aug. 5, 2109: Westbridge Marine Terminal on Burnaby Mountain. Thefight for democracy and justice and the fight against environmentalbreakdown are one and the same. Standing up to those whose magical thinking got us into this mess and never letting them tell us what can and cannot be done.
10. Sept. 20, 2109: Die-In for Climate Justice: The Blood of OurChildren, at Tsleil Waututh Coast Salish Territory, aka Vancouver. Climate Strikes - Sept. 20-27.
11. Sept. 27, 2019. The beautiful determination of the knowledgeable young people who led the march was awesome. Climate Strike - Tsleil Waututh Coast Salish Territory, aka Vancouver, with 250,000 strong - biggest ever! We will need to move mountains together if this movement for survival is to prevail.
12. October 25, 2109: Greta Thunberg in Vancouver with Severin Cullis-Suzuki, Chiefs Judy Wilson and Stewart Phillip, Joan Phillip, Will George and many friends for Friday Climate Strike! The strike coincides with the lawsuit launched against the government by 15 young
Canadians over the climate emergency. Long-time activist Severin Cullis-Suzuki, with arm raised, attended the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, at the age of 12. Her speech was made into a video that went viral: "The Girl Who Silenced the World for 5 Minutes."
13. Dec. 16, 2019: Rally in solidarity with the Coldwater, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, in court today to protect their communities and the health of the land, water and air. These three First Nations are challenging the constitutionality of the Trans Mountain pipeline and tankers project approval, and the government's failure once again to adequately consult.
14. Jan. 11, 2020: So inspiring that people globally are waking up to the climate crisis, not just dreaming to ourselves that things will work out. As elsewhere, Indigenous and non-Indigenous allies are growing in unity and strength to take on governments that give lip service to the environmental emergency and Indigenous rights while going ahead with destructive mega projects that completely ignore both. All eyes on Wet'suwet'en. No fracking LNG. No Site C dam. No pipelines.
15. Feb. 8, 2020: Since the RCMP began raiding Wet’suwet’en lands and arresting land protectors, thousands of supporters from Halifax to Victoria have hit the streets and occupied political offices. Today, shutting down traffic outside the Port of Vancouver and saying Canada’s horrific legacy of colonial dispossession of Indigenous peoples must end now.
16. Feb. 13, 2020: Occupation by land defenders of B.C. Attorney General David Eby’s office. Calling on the AG to respect Wet’suwet’en law, revoke the permit for CoastalGas Link and LNG Canada, and demand the immediate withdrawal of the RCMP from Wet’suwet’en lands.
17. Feb. 12, 2020: Trying to be the ancestors our descendants will thank. Shutting down traffic in downtown Vancouver after the militarized raids on Wet’suwet’en lands. It’s a beautiful thing to see infrastructures being disrupted all across Canada. Politicians like John Horgan and Justin Trudeau need to learn our ‘prosperity’ does not rely on colonial abuse and the poisonous spoils of the oil and gas industry.
18. March 1, 2020: After weeks of rail blockades, shutting down ports, occupying political offices, and international rallies by allies, Canada and BC have proposed an agreement to recognize Wet'suwet'entitle on their unceded lands. However, Coastal Gaslink and the RCMP continue to violently trespass against Wet'suwet'en will.
A message to supporters by the Wet'suwet'en: "This is not over. We want the RCMP and CGL off our lands. This proposal from BC and Canada is long overdue, following decades of denial of Wet'suwet'en rights and title after the 1997 Delgamuukw-Gisday'wa court case. Our ancestors proved what we have always known - that these lands belong to the Wet'suwet'en - and thanks to thousands rising up across so-called Canada, the government is forced to acknowledge this.
"We need to keep the pressure on."