Hundreds Protest Enbridge Pipeline and Oil Tankers at Heiltsuk-led Rally
“Stand With Us to Fight”
Hundreds of people from First Nations, environmental and community organizations, and others from Vancouver and beyond rallied against Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline and coastal oil supertanker traffic earlier today, filling the Vancouver Art Gallery grounds.
A march led by the Heiltsuk Nation of the Central Coast departed from the Coastal First Nations office at Granville and Hastings and wound its way through the downtown business district to join those waiting at the Art Gallery. The rally marked the 23rd anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill off the coast of Alaska, spilling hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil on March 24, 1989.
“Only seven percent of that oil was cleaned up,” said Coastal First Nations executive director Art Sterritt of the Exxon Valdez spill. “Our well-being as First Nations is dependent on our lands, on our waters.”
“Our people, the Heiltsuk people, have always had a position: No oil tankers on the coast! That position has never changed,” Heiltsuk elder Edwin Newman told the rally. “We are pleading with our coastal neighbours to stand with us to fight this issue.”
“When we stand together, we are a powerful people,” added Newman, whose call for unity was echoed by speaker after speaker.
“We are Canada’s energy union and we stand with you on this issue,” Jim Britton, Western Region Vice President of the Communications, Energy and Paper Workers’ Union (CEP) told the crowd. “We do not support Enbridge. We do not support Northern Gateway… This isn’t just about oil. This is about us. This is about our communities.”
If built, the proposed 1,200km Northern Gateway oil pipeline would transport half a million barrels of tar sands bitumen from Alberta to Kitimat, BC. The proposed twin pipelines’ 30m-wide right-of-way would cross hundreds of rivers, streams, and watersheds along its route through numerous unceded Indigenous territories. The crude oil would then be transported on massive oil tankers through delicate coastal ecosystems and Indigenous territories, and then across the Pacific to Asian markets.
from vancouver media co-op–