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Council of Canadians at Secwepemc Nation meetings vs Kinder Morgan pipeline

Vancouver-based Council of Canadians organizer Harjap Grewal was at a Secwepemc Nation gathering this week.

On Monday, Kamloops This Week reported, “Chase Iron Eyes is a lawyer and member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. He and other First Nations anti-pipeline activists will attend a public forum [on February 6] at Thompson Rivers University and are meeting privately for several days after.”

Other speakers at the forum titled ‘Pipeline Resistance North and South of the Medicine Line’ were policy analyst Russell Diabo, 350.org organizer Clayton Thomas-Muller, Seventh Generation Fund executive director Tia Oros Peters, Greenpeace campaigner Melina Laboucan-Massimo, educator and activist Dr. Janice Billy, and land protector Kanahus Manuel.

Naomi Klein also spoke at a second public forum at Thompson Rivers University on Tuesday (February 7).

A 350.org media release notes, “Along with the public meeting, their will be two-days of private meetings among the North American activists. The pipeline battle in North Dakota and the upcoming battle over the recently approved Kinder Morgan pipeline—that is planned to pass through more than 500 kilometres of Secwepemc territory—are high on the agenda.”

On November 29, 2016, the Trudeau government approved the 890,000 barrel per day Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline. This pipeline would cross 1309 waterways including the South Thompson River near Kamloops.

Our friend and ally Art Manuel, who had been planning this gathering prior to passing away on January 11, had stated, “This pipeline requires the consent of the Secwepemc people. We do not accept that the federal government can make this decision unilaterally and without the prior informed consent of the Secwepemc people as the rightful titleholders.”

This morning, his daughter Kanahus Manuel posted on Facebook, “Chase Iron Eyes joins Secwepemc Peoples and other Land Defenders and Water Protectors to visit the site where the Kinder Morgan pipeline is proposing to cross under our River.” And yesterday, Art’s sister Doreen Manuel posted, “Today Indigenous from across Turtle island held a ceremony at the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline site at Kamloops on Secwepemc territory and vowed in unity to stop all pipelines.”

Two-thirds of the 120 First Nations along the pipeline route have not given their free, prior and informed consent for the pipeline.

One of those First Nations is the Coldwater Indian Band, which is situated about 90 kilometres south of Kamloops. They have filed a judicial review challenge of the Trudeau government’s approval of the pipeline. Metro News has reported, “The First Nation raised its concerns about the proximity of the Trans Mountain route to its aquifer, upon which 90 per cent of the nearly 800 residents depend for drinking water.”

Kamloops This Week adds, “Despite facing [evacuation from their own treaty land to allow construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, Iron Eyes] said protesters are committed to non-violence. …Many have noted the violent clashes between police and protesters at Standing Rock as a potential in this country as construction for Kinder Morgan’s Trans Canada pipeline looms.”

Despite various court challenges, Texas-based Kinder Morgan says it plans to begin construction on the pipeline this September. It is believed the likely location where that construction will begin is in the Kamloops area.

The Council of Canadians has been opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline since August 2011 by participating in marches, protests and civil disobedience actions, supporting chapter activism, petitions and a court action, writing blogs, and organizing numerous public events and a six-community speaking tour.