This morning activist from around Ontario, including Council of Canadians chapter members, interrupted work on Enbridge’s Line 9 and began an indefinite blockade of the site. This construction site in Deshkaan Ziibing, Anishinabek Territory, in south-western Ontario is 500m from the Thames River. The work being done will, “not add any protection against a leak of toxic diluted bitumen into this important water source as it is located on the far side of the river. Line 9 is the same age and design as the Enbridge pipeline which caused the largest in-land oil spill in American history. Enbridge has identified more than 12,000 flaws in Line 9’s structure, and the line has already leaked at least 35 times in less than 40 years.”
The land defenders have been occupying the construction site since 6:30 this morning adn were told by police they may be arrested if they do not leave by 6pm. Many of the group plan to stay and are committed to protection the water and environment Line 9 threatens. Strangely, two of the blockaders were pulled over and detained by police as they traveled down concession road while leaving the site this evening. It is reported that one of the blockader pulled over has now been arrested and is being detained by the Oxford OPP (the cause of the detention/arrest is unclear at the time of writing).
“More than half a million people rely on drinking water provided by the Thames Watershed. Rare species such as the eastern spiny softshell turtle, queen snake, black redhorse and Virginia Opossum rely on its specific ecosystems. Food growers have relied on its fertile valley for over 11 000 years. This construction site is less than a kilometre from the river, and is in the middle of active farm land.”
Vanessa Grey, an indigenous activist from Aamjiwnaang stated, “As a voice from an indigenous front line community facing environmental devastation, I speak against Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline and its link to the expansion of the Canadian tar sands industry. The expansion of the tar sands is a threat to my right to breathe clean air and drink clean water. My community is already experiencing high toxicity from the over 60 facilities in Chemical Valley we are surrounded by. I share the responsibility to defend the land from further destruction and the high risk of a tar sands spill.”
“We’ve tried pursuing avenues with the National Energy Board and within local and regional governments. The concerns expressed by individual people and municipalities were ignored. The official processes have merely rubber-stamped dangerous tar sands projects and failed to protect us, so we are here out of necessity,” says Rachel Avery, a blockader. “This project is also being illegally forced through without meaningful consultation of Indigenous communities. For example, the Chippewas of the Thames have appealed the NEB approval, but Enbridge has continued to work on the line regardless,” Avery continued.
Once a river is poisoned, it cannot be undone. We need to act before it is too late. Join us and let’s Dam Line 9! Blockaders are inviting supporters to come them at the site and/or donate supplies. The site is located on Oxford County Rd 5 (aka 17th Line) in Innerkip, ON (near Woodstock) between Township Rd 10 and Township Rd 9 (aka Braemar Side Road).
To learn more about Line 9 please see:
#noline9 #damline9 #waterislife