Direct Action across B.C against Big Oil and Gas is starting to take shape
by Derrick, West Coast Native News, June 19th, 2014
Opponents of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project spent the day after its conditional approval from Ottawa waging war on several fronts, Taking Direct action, using civil disobedience, legal action, and persuasion to further the message that the $7.9-billion pipeline should not be built.
Nine people staged a sit-in at Conservative MP James Moore’s B.C. constituency office Wednesday to voice their opposition to the project. Four were arrested after they refused to leave, but were quickly released by police and not taken into custody.
“We feel that Stephen Harper, along with James Moore, have a democratic duty to respect the convictions of Canadians and British Columbians who have said no,” Elle-Maija Tailfeathers, one of the protesters who left on her own accord, said in an interview.
When asked why she left the protest, Ms. Tailfeathers said: “This is a very long struggle ahead. I’m in it for the long haul. I’m ready to pick my battles.”
Constable Luke van Winkel, a spokesman for the Port Moody Police Department, described the protest as peaceful and said “no real force” was needed to escort the protesters outside. He said the decision to release them quickly was based in part on the fact they were co-operative throughout the hours-long sit-in.
Later on that night, Another direct action protest took place with Northern BC residents, Gitxsan members and elders. with a group that goes by the name of Beyond Boarding at a TransCanada Open House In Hazelton. There message was in solidarity with protests taking place over the federal government’s decision on the Northern Gateway pipeline, and took action to show their discontent with all oil and gas pipelines.” Chris Timms one of the demonstrators stated ” We did this action as a request of Gitxsan peoples who have the responsibility to preserve their illegally occupied, un-surrendered territories from destructive industry!”
Beyond Boarding, is a collaboration of friends and snowboarders from Vancouver and Whistler, Led by Tamo Campos, (who is the grandson of Dr. David Suzuki), Lewis Muirhead, and David MacKinnon, the organization uses video and photos to educate the community. The thought is that while not everyone may want to watch an environmental video, you can watch an exciting snowboard video while still learning about industrial projects and how they might affect BC.
And just last month we seen three activists (Dan Wallace, Mia Nissen and Adam Gold) take direct action and locked themselves to the gate of Chevron in North Burnaby to protest exploitative resource extraction in Canada. They used bicycle D-locks and chains to secure themselves to the metal posts of the gate to stop truck traffic into the Chevron North Burnaby in order to draw attention the Federal and Provincial government’s complete disregard for the earth, Indigenous sovereignty, and the reality of climate change.
The federal government’s decision this week to approve the Northern Gateway project was not unexpected. Within minutes of the announcement, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said First Nations would take the matter to court. A rally against the project a few hours later drew hundreds of people in downtown Vancouver.
Peter Lantin, president of the Haida Nation, said Wednesday the dispute between First Nations and the federal government has gone beyond the Northern Gateway project.
“For us, it’s a rights and title discussion,” he said. “It’s not necessarily about a pipeline.”
The legal challenge is being mounted by a coalition that includes all three major aboriginal organizations in the province: the pro-treaty First Nations Summit, the anti-treaty Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and the regional branch of the Assembly of First Nations, as well as dozens of individual bands.
One thing is for certain, Opposition to Big oil and gas is starting to shift gears in B.C, and direct action is starting to take shape. As Brad Hornick puts it,
On the side of humanity and nature are the good people being arrested, those in the audience, and all the allies expressing support throughout the day. Risking their daily routine, their reputation with coworkers or aquaintances, or possible financial penalty, they soldier on throughout the day in the shared understanding that this is a time of clarity, of vitality, of being awake to ourselves as people and as community. We will remember the words of one of the arrestees. “We can do this. We are doing this now”.