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Council organizers Grewal and Klein at the ‘Stoking the Sacred Fire’ gathering

Council of Canadians organizers Harjap Grewal and AJ Klein were at the ‘Stoking the Sacred Fire: Mobilization for Indigenous Land Defense’ gathering in Vancouver this weekend.

The promotion for the event noted, “A weekend gathering of frontline Indigenous communities engaged in land defense struggles, urban Indigenous people facing our own multiple frontlines, and supporters. Indigenous land defenders from land struggles are converging on Friday, March 24 – Sunday, March 26 to speak and strategize on protecting lands and waters and asserting nationhood on their territories. The weekend aims to continue building connections between urban Indigenous folks with various relationships to their territories and Nations and land defenders who are living on, defending, and acting as stewards of their lands.”

Saturday included a combination of workshops and skills based training identified as needs by land defenders, along with organizing meetings, while Sunday was focused on a process to create a more organized network, connected to and responsible to frontline Indigenous communities and their particular needs.

Grewal led a workshop on ‘green capitalism’ on Saturday, while Klein helped facilitate on Sunday. The Council of Canadians also contributed $400 to help land defenders attend the conference.

Three key land defence struggles identified by the gathering were:

  • the 890,000 barrel per day Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline from northern Alberta to the British Columbia coast,

  • the Petronas Pacific NorthWest liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and its associated TransCanada – Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline that would carry fracked gas from northeastern BC to the LNG export terminal on the coast, and

  • the Chevron Pacific Trail Pipeline that would carry fracked gas from the Liard and Horn River basins in northeastern BC to the Kitimat LNG facility site situated on the northwest coast of BC.

Two-thirds of the 120 First Nations along the Kinder Morgan pipeline route have not given their free, prior and informed consent for the pipeline. Several of these First Nations have brought forward court challenges against the pipeline. Tree clearing and site preparation for the pipeline is expected to begin this September with construction on the pipeline itself to begin in January 2018.

The Madii Lii camp in Gitxsan Nation territory in northwestern BC was established in August 2014 to block the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline to the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal. In addition, the Lax Kw’alaams resistance camp was established in August 2015 on Lax U’u’la (Lelu Island) on the northern coast of BC to block the construction of the LNG terminal.

And the Unis’tot’en (People of the Headwaters) Action Camp was established in July 2010. As noted on their website, “The proposed pipelines from Enbridge and Pacific Trails Pipeline (Chevron), seek to cross the river at the exact points of our Pithouse, and Permaculture Garden that was built on the Unist’ot’en Territory of Talbits Kwah.”

The weekend gathering took place on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish people including the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.