Anne Watson / North Shore News
Protesters gathered in West Vancouver Saturday to take a stance on Kinder Morgan’s proposed expansion of its Trans Mountain pipeline.
Around 15 women, including representatives from the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish and Musqueam First Nations, as well as Greenpeace campaigners, gathered for the Wall of Woman in the cold and rain by The Welcome Figure at Ambleside Beach to send a message to Kinder Morgan that a pipeline expansion was not welcome.
Shanentsut (Mandy Nahanee), a climate and energy outreach campaigner for Greenpeace BC and organizer of the event, said it was an opportunity to bring women together and strengthen their voices.
“We’re standing here together to link arms to build the wall of women to say no, we do not want that in our communities, we will not accept this in our communities, we want better,” said Nahanee. “Canada has a responsibility to protect their communities, we have the right to live in healthy environments— healthy environments to raise our children, to take care of our grandparents, to drink healthy water, to eat healthy food. It's basic human rights.”
Kinder Morgan has applied to the National Energy Board to expand its pipeline from its current 300,000 barrels of diluted bitumen per day to 890,000 barrels, increasing tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet from five tankers to around 34 tankers each month.
Tantoo Cardinal, who co-starred with Kevin Costner in Dances with Wolves, was also present for the protest. Cardinal said she has a lot of respect for the indigenous people on the West Coast doing their best to protect the water and marine life.
“I really think that any way that we can stand there and try to make so much of the world realize that water is important, (is) definitely important,” she said. “There’s a huge contingency of people who don’t really breathe that in very well.”
Cardinal said people take clean water for granted and so much of it is being destroyed.
“Its part of life force, it’s a part of our life force and it’s a part of our planets life force,” she said. “It’s so important to us, its got to be that important to her.”
Melina Laboucan-Massimo, a climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace, said her family comes from one of the regions impacted by the tar sands in Northern Alberta and that spills, whether by tanker or along the pipeline route, are “a very clear and present danger.”
“If we continue down this path towards resource extraction, we’re kind of digging ourselves further into this hole, which is extreme fossil fuel development as opposed to going towards more renewable energy sources (and) providing green jobs,” said Laboucan-Massimo. “People have a very intimate relationship to the coast, especially First Nations people who have lived here for thousands of years.”
Laboucan-Massimo said she haa travelled along the various pipelines and spoken to groups about the dangers they can pose.
“It’s what we’re already experiencing in Alberta and we don’t want that to happen to communities here,” she said.
Kinder Morgan submitted an application for the expansion to the National Energy Board of Canada on Dec. 16, 2013. If approved, construction on the new pipeline could start as early as 2016 and be fully operational by 2017. All three North Shore municipalities have raised concerns about the possible environmental impacts of the expansion.