The movement against the Dakota Access pipeline is spreading to Canada. Just after 9 a.m. PDT this morning, a group of activists occupied a branch of TD Canada Trust in downtown Vancouver.
“We are protecting the same things here — land and water — as Standing Rock is down south. We are coming together to remind everyone that water is life and that we have to take an urgent stand against the devastation that pipeline companies are causing to mother earth. This impacts not only Indigenous communities but all communities,” stated Jerilyn Webster, one of the participants in the TD Bank occupation, in a press release.
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Today’s direct action is in response to revelations that TD is one of several Canadian financial institutions backing the DAPL and its associated companies. The pipeline, which is to carry oil from the Bakken Fields to Illinois, has met fierce opposition from the Standing Rock Sioux and a growing alliance led by Indigenous nations.
Close to 2,000 people, including members of over 100 Native American tribes, have converged at a spirit camp near Cannon Ball, North Dakota.
The Obama administration recently announced a temporary halt to construction of the controversial project, and promised additional consultation before allowing DAPL to go forward:
”this case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects. Therefore, this fall, we will invite tribes to formal, government-to-government consultations on two questions: (1) within the existing statutory framework, what should the federal government do to better ensure meaningful tribal input into infrastructure-related reviews and decisions and the protection of tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights; and (2) should new legislation be proposed to Congress to alter that statutory framework and promote those goals.”
This move by the U.S. government came in the wake of escalating repression of the Indigenous land defenders last week, including confrontations in which DAPL-related security staff used dogs and pepper spray against people protesting the pipeline.
Activists ended their occupation of the TD branch just before 11 a.m. PDT. No arrests were made. A rally has been called for 5 p.m. PDT Monday outside another branch of TD Canada in Vancouver. Today’s occupation in Vancouver is a sign that the movement is now going international. Local organizers said they were responding to a call for global actions in solidarity with Standing Rock.