(Unceded Coast Salish Territory / Vancouver, B.C. – January 1, 2018) As the days start to grow longer, there remains a smoldering, undiminished sense of determination, inspiration and hope in our hearts as we approach Battleground 2018.
Led by the Tsleil-Waututh, Coldwater Indian Band, and Squamish Nation, the lawsuits that could shut down Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion project will be decided by summer. Should the approval be nullified, our attention will be squarely upon Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to take immediate action to protect the land, rivers, the Salish Sea and stop the Trans Mountain Expansion project.
It has been a long, drawn out process as governments have continued to live up to their election promises and government commitments. The last federal and provincial elections reaffirmed the importance of Indigenous Title, Rights and Treaty Rights. We were told that now is the time to implement the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, now is the time to honour the Tsilhqot'in Supreme Court of Canada decision, and now is the time for reconciliation by breathing life into the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action. Is that what we have seen?
The Coast Protectors campaign arose as thousands gathered to send a clear message to Prime Minister Trudeau that we would not back down just because his government approved the Trans Mountain Expansion project. After all, Enbridge’s Northern Gateway was approved by the former Prime Minister and the courts killed it because of the flagrant refusal to honourably engage with Indigenous communities on the irreversible impacts to their Title, Rights and Treaty Rights.
This past fall, Kinder Morgan’s president Ian Anderson complained to the federal government that delays were costing the company $90 million a month.
We will continue to warn investors and we will continue to oppose this project that so flippantly downplays the risks from this pipeline to the lands of the Coldwater Band, whose drinking water source would be undrinkable in case of a spill. We will oppose the massive expansion of a super-tanker terminal in Tsleil-Waututh waters, even as Kinder Morgan claims the right of private property over part of the Salish Sea. We stand with the Squamish Nation, who have spent so much time and money trying to make the government live up to its promises around consultation.
There are tens of thousands of us and we will do what it takes to stop this pipeline expansion project and tanker nightmare.
After many promises to implement the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples including the fundamental principle of free, prior and informed consent, it is becoming clear we see that these promises have given way to a plodding shrug once in office. Caleb Behn, an Indigenous lawyer from Treaty 8, where Premier Horgan’s government “heavy-hearted” approval of BC Hydro’s Site C dam will now flood thousands of hectares of traditional lands stated, "You cannot address injustice while perpetrating injustice."
There is no justice for Indigenous peoples without climate justice. We have been here and we will always be here.
I raise my hands to the Indigenous Nations, Peoples, friends and allies for your commitment and work in 2017.
In 2018, we will move forward together.
Whatever it takes.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs