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Over 10,000 people in Standing Rock. Now is the time for all our communities to say NO to extreme pipelines

(An ancient hemlock tree stands tall in James Park, Etobicoke, Ontario – picture by Mark D’Arcy)

The size of the solidarity camp in North Dakota is now too large for much of the media to practice their self-censorship.  “More than 10, 000 have come here from all over the world”, reports BBC’s James Cook in his compelling news report from the Standing Rock camp.  This report was also aired on their evening television show, BBC News, last Friday, Dec. 2, 2016.

The conviction to speak out against extreme pipelines is having a profound affect here in Canada.  Solidarity marches have called on Canadian banks to divest from Dakota Access, Kinder Morgan opposition is talking about the possibility of “Standing Rock” protests, 70 TD Scholarship winners asked TD Bank to divest from Dakota Access, and Mount Allison University students have asked Sackville, New Brunswick to approve a resolution opposing the Energy East tar sands pipeline.

Thousands more people have joined the Standing Rock camp this weekend, and APTN National reporter Shaneed Robinson-Desjarlais estimated that 4,000 veterans have now joined them in solidarity.   And on Sunday night, several kilometres of the roads leading to Standing Rock were clogged with new supporters going to the camp.

(Traffic jam of kilometres of cars leading to Standing Rock, APTN National video report, Dec. 4, 2016 – https://www.facebook.com/shaneen.robinson.9/videos/10157792782245048/)

Faced with this opposition on the eve of the December 5th deadline of the camp’s eviction notice, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Sunday afternoon that it would not grant an easement necessary for the Dakota Access pipeline to cross under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, just north of the encampments at Standing Rock.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also ordered an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which will study different alternative pipeline routes.

(Documentary filmmaker Tom BK Goldtooth interviewed after Dakota Access easement under Missouri River was denied, APTN National video report, Dec. 4, 2016 – https://www.facebook.com/shaneen.robinson.9/videos/10157793385470048/)

“This is something that we have been lobbying for.  We’ve been organizing around this. Standing behind the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, standing behind the Seven Council Fires of the Sioux Nation, and over 300 other Nations,” says documentary filmmaker Tom BK Goldtooth in a video interview with APTN National.  “So this is a victory for us tonight.  But we are also cautious.  We are very cautious as well.  Because our experience in working with our native nations and our frontline Indigenous grassroots communities, against these extractive industries, is that experience tells us that they will probably appeal.  If Dakota Access appeals, that’s going to take us into the next administration of Donald Trump, and we know what Donald Trump represents.”  

“And we are advocating people continue to come here, hold the line”, says Tom BK Goldtooth.  “If DAPL [Dakota Access Pipeline] is really serous about closing down the shop, we’re going to ask them to move down their drill pad.  We’re going to ask them to take down their lights.  We’re going to ask them to take down the barricades. Let’s see if they are really going to close down shop.”

The world is watching and learning.  Subjugation didn’t work in Birmingham, it didn’t work in Kent County, New Brunswick, and it didn’t work in Standing Rock.  

The sheer injustice fuelled by the oil industry and major banks has moved people to take a stand.  The route of the Dakota Access Pipeline was rejected by the Capital City of Bismarck because of risks to their municipal water sources, so it was moved several miles away to now go through the ancestral land of the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota and threaten their tribe’s drinking water supply, the Missouri River.

If it not OK for one community, it’s not OK for any community.

The pipeline is proposed to go under the Missouri River, the drinking water supply to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and millions of other people.  The pipeline is 30 inches in diameter which would make the size of a leak or rupture extremely large.  But the oil industry and 17 banks providing $2.5 billion loans for this pipeline have stood in silent approval of this discrimination, this outright racism.

George Orwell’s Animal Farm is an appropriate allegory for the authoritarian and abusive action we are witnessing today on our communities and our climate.  In this novel, as some animals seize totalitarian control over the other farm animals, they turn a blind eye to their rights and freedoms, and even resort to using dogs to terrorize them. In the final chapter of Animal Farm, the Seven Commandments painted on the side of the barn gets wiped off and is replaced by only one, ominous Commandment:



The owner of the farm, Mr. Pilkington, celebrates the financial success of the farm in the closing pages of the book, “Gentlemen, I give you a toast:  To the prosperity of Animal Farm!”

The rights and freedoms of Indigenous people are now under attack in Standing Rock.  The oil industry has resorted to using security dogs on the water protectors, and the authorities have resorted to arrest of journalists and filmmakers, and even issued an arrest warrant back in September for Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman (the charge was later rejected by a judge).   Do the oil companies and banks consider some people more equal than others? Is profit more important than the well-being of communities?

Water protector Dallas Goldtooth advocates for a continued fight, “We can go after the banks harder than ever to cut off funding to DAPL. We can continue to spread information, lobby elected officials, lobby the Corps, hold events, train for direct action.  We can engage in the EIS process once it begins.”

“We are looking at systems change,” says documentary filmmaker Tom BK Goldtooth in a video interview with APTN National. “People throughout the world are starting to see and wakeup that what the native people, the Indigenous people, have been talking about, about the sacredness of Mother Earth is very important. That’s what’s happening.” 

Standing Rock has become the spark for an awakening of the human spirit, for a grassroots mobilization of peoples that is growing across North America and the world against extreme pipelines. The carbon dioxide and methane emissions from the production of tar sands bitumen, fracked oil, and fracked gas is simply too great.  Satellite images now show unprecedented plumes of methane gas over the US Southwest and over North Dakota

And just in the last month, reports concluding that we must leave fossil fuels in the ground have been issued by the United Nations Environment for Development (UNEP), Oil Change International, and Jeff Rubin (former Chief Economist for CIBC).

Over 10,000 in Standing Rock is a call-to-action for all of our communities to speak up and say no to extreme pipelines.  #NoEnergyEast #NoKM #NoDAPL

For more on the Council of Canadians campaign to stop the Energy East pipeline, please click here.