Photos: Thousands rally against Trans Mountain pipeline
Traditional Coast Salish watch house to 'to monitor the enemy’s doings'
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Thousands of protesters joined Indigenous leaders from across North America in a march and rally on Burnaby Mountain Saturday, the first action in what organizers say will be long-standing opposition to Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
Organizers with Protect The Inlet also assembled a traditional Coast Salish watch house on the margins of a 50 metre exclusion zone ordered Friday as part of an injunction granted by a B.C. Supreme Court judge. The injunction bars demonstrators from Trans Mountain property and forbids the creation of roadblocks on its access roads.
Ali Hounsell, a spokesperson for the federally-approved expansion project, said Friday that the company requested the injunction out of concern for safety and to avoid further work delays.
Once the watch house is complete, Tsleil Waututh member Will George will occupy it 24 hours a day, just as his ancestors did when they kept watch over their enemies.
“We’ve been planning this day for a few years. I’ve been asked by my spiritual leaders and elders to put up a watch house here, to monitor the enemy’s doings,” George said. "We’ve been in ceremony for the past few months, taking back to our old ways,” he said.
"Our people never relocated from our lands. We’re just continuing to protect our waters today. It’s an amazing feeling to be asked to do this,” he said.
As work on the watch house carried on Saturday morning, Trans Mountain employees, including security guards with dogs, patrolled the fence line on the company property. Oil company workers felled trees and cleaned land on one side, while Protect The Inlet volunteers hefted wooden beams and set concrete footings in the ground on the other.
Protect The Inlet plans to use the site as a focal point for continuing protest against the expansion of the 1,100 km pipeline that would almost triple the amount of diluted bitumen flowing from the oil sands to the coast and increase tanker traffic seven-fold.
How long that could take, George said he doesn’t know but he’s committed to seeing it through to the end.
“I don’t see an end to when it’s going to stop, but this pipeline will not be built,” he said.