News / Vancouver

Tiny painted homes join pipeline fight

Renowned Indigenous artists lend battle a hand

Metis artist Christi Belcourt and group of grassroots pipeline opponents use a silkscreen to reproduce artwork in Vancouver on November 23, 2017.

Jennifer Gauthier / Metro Order this photo

Metis artist Christi Belcourt and group of grassroots pipeline opponents use a silkscreen to reproduce artwork in Vancouver on November 23, 2017.

One of the country’s most prominent visual artists is lending her voice — and paintings — to the struggle against Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion underway across British Columbia.

Christi Belcourt, a Métis artist whose paintings appear in the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Museum of History’s permanent collections, helped paint a miniature home on wheels in an alley off East Hastings Street on Thursday.

“We’re painting this tiny house … to put in the path of Kinder Morgan pipelines,” Belcourt said. “It’s our great honour to be able to paint this today, as well as a s--tload of banners.”

Belcourt, who lives in Ontario, is an outspoken advocate of Indigenous self-determination. In 2012 the federal government chose her to design a stained-glass display honouring residential school survivors and victims on Parliament Hill — a piece titled Giniigaaniimenaaning (Looking Ahead).

“The entire wealth of Canada comes only on the backs of the dispossession of Indigenous Peoples off of our land,” she said Thursday. “I have a really hard time understanding how we can have reconciliation if we don’t have our lands. The health of us as peoples and nations is wholly dependent on our connect to the land.

“At the end of the day, Indigenous people can’t even stop a pipeline from going across their lands … but there’s a strong, strong resistance to the Kinder Morgan pipeline in Vancouver and across B.C.”

Tiny House Warriors organizer Kanahus Manuel, a member of Secwepemc Nation, said it’s the third of at least 10 winterized structures that will eventually be outfitted with bunk beds and solar panels — “a glimpse of what is to come,” she said.

“We wanted a way to ... get out on the pipeline route and block its construction and development. How are we going to creatively resist against these pipelines?

“They allow us to be mobile on our territories; we’ve always been mobile like that. This isn’t a stationary fight.”

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