Now that the Energy East tar sands pipeline has been abandoned, all eyes are focused on the battle against Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to the west coast. As the Texas-based multinational tries to get shovels in the ground, they face determined opposition in B.C. This includes a number of Indigenous nations along the pipeline route. Today members of the Secwepemc nation and allies released the following declaration opposing Kinder Morgan’s application to set up a work camp for pipeline construction in their territory.
We, the Secwepemc, have never ceded, surrendered, or given up our sovereign title and rights over the land, waters and resources within Secwepemcul’ecw. We have never provided and will never provide our collective free, prior and informed consent — the minimal international standard — to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Project or the Kinder Morgan Man Camps.
Kinder Morgan is applying for a 1000-worker Blue River Campsite on 16 hectares of our lands where we harvest berries. We are also opposed to Kinder Morgan's anti-spawning mats. Even though Kinder Morgan has been ordered to stop installing these mats, we have found and removed anti-spawning mats from our waters. Salmon are our sacred lifeline through generations and we will not compromise the health of our salmon.
Kinder Morgan and any other corporate colonial project that seeks to go through and destroy our nation and land will be refused passage.
We stand resolutely together against any and all threats to our peoples, our women, our two-spirits, our children, our lands, the wildlife, the salmon, the waterways.
Man camps provide temporary employee housing to thousands of mostly non-Indigenous male workers — who are legally disallowed from bringing their families — in the resource sector. This is a consistent pattern of the settler state over the past century. Hudson's Bay Company prohibited European women from accompanying, and flooded Indigenous lands with non-Indigenous men who kidnapped, sexually exploited, enslaved and sold Indigenous women.
Today, wherever man camps are set up, we face exponential increases in sexual violence. As development results in the destruction of our land base and our food sovereignty, it also drives up food and housing prices. This further intensifies our economic insecurity and we are forced into even more vulnerable conditions.
As James Anaya, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, has noted “indigenous women have reported that the influx of workers into indigenous communities as a result of extractive projects also led to increased incidents of sexual harassment and violence, including rape and assault.”
The Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, for example, is at the epicenter of the Bakken shale oil boom — one of the largest sources for oil extraction in the U.S. The rates of violence against women at Fort Berthold have tripled with 243 reported rapes in one year. North Dakota now has the eighth highest incidence of rape in the U.S. During the height of the Alberta tar sands boom in 2009, the region had the country’s highest rate of domestic violence.
There is currently a national inquiry into thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls to investigate the systemic causes of violence. Our missing and murdered women, girls and two-spirits are individual lives that represent ongoing colonial gendered violence. The national homicide rate for Indigenous women is seven times higher than for non-Indigenous women in Canada.
We know this horrific violence will not end while the pillage of our lands continues. The water of our lands and the water in our bodies create and sustain our nations. The colonial corporate system of resource extraction relies on the connected violences of destroying our lands and violating our bodies.
Last year Amnesty International released a report calling for the national inquiry to specifically examine violence tied to resource development: "In actively promoting intensive development in the northeast, federal and provincial officials have emphasized benefits, while largely ignoring serious — and sometimes deadly — unintended consequences for wellness and safety that disproportionately impact the lives of the indigenous peoples who live there, particularly indigenous women and girls.”
We, as Secwepemc women, declare that we do no consent! We do not consent to the desecration of our sacred land; we do not consent to the transgressions on our sacred bodies!
We are currently building ten solarized Tiny Houses on our land to block Kinder Morgan. By doing this, we are providing housing to Secwepemc families, re-establishing our village sites, and asserting our Secwepemc responsibility to our lands and waters.
We have lived on our land of 180,000 square km of unceded territory since time immemorial. We collectively hold title and governance regarding Secwepemcul’ecw and the collective consent of the Secwepemc is required for any access to our lands, waters and resources. We are committed to upholding our collective jurisdiction to look after the land, the language, and the culture of our people, as well as the safety and wellbeing of our women, two-spirits, and children.
We invite all women, children and two-spirit people to add your name to this Declaration.
Secwepemc Women’s Warrior Society and Tiny House Warriors Declared in Unceded, Unsurrendered Secwepemcul’ecw, Secwepemc Territory, November 2017