Kayaks against the pipeline

Arrests on the water as fight against Kinder Morgan heats up in B.C.

Flotilla disrupts early construction efforts at marine terminal in Burnaby
Zack Embree

The battle against Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is heating up in B.C. Five people were arrested Saturday after a flotilla of activists in kayaks took to the waters of Burrard Inlet and successfully stalled construction efforts at Kinder Morgan’s Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby, B.C.

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More than 50 kayaks and other boats participated in the action on Saturday, and they were joined by a crowd of supporters on land. Members of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation and other First Nations leaders spoke at a rally prior to the launch of the on-the-water protest.

"The prime minister can't say he's embracing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on one hand, and then on the other hand support Kinder Morgan's risky pipeline and tanker project," said Chief Bob Chamberlin, vice president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and chief councillor of the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation, according to a press release.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved Kinder Morgan’s pipeline last November. With the cancellation of TransCanada’s proposed Energy East tar sands pipeline earlier this month, the oil industry and the Alberta NDP government are more focused than ever on seeing that the Trans Mountain expansion gets built. The mega-project is already behind schedule, however, and faces active court challenges and now a new NDP government in B.C. that campaigned on its opposition to the pipeline.

Karen Mahon, a veteran environmental activist and one of the five arrested Saturday, posted to social media after she was released from custody:

Kinder Morgan has a court order to keep people away from seeing what they are doing to our inlet. The RCMP are enforcing it for them so now I will face charges of criminal mischief in court. How can it be that I am the criminal when they are knowingly destroying traditional lands and waters and polluting our climate for profit. There are thousands of climate refugees who have been driven from their homes. I watched the stories of people dying on the California wildfires. And we who are trying to stop the destruction are treated as criminals and the police force of Canada and British Columbia use their force to protect the right of a Texas oil company to make a profit while causing so much suffering. When is enough enough?

Those who took part in Saturday’s flotilla protest say this is just the beginning of a new phase of resistance, and that Kinder Morgan’s pipeline will never be completed.

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