by Marilyn Mayers
In early April of this year, a group of First Nations from British Columbia, the Suquamish, Tsleil Waututh, Ts’elxweyeqw tribes and Coldwater band, sought to appeal a decision by the Canadian government to approve the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion (TMX) project by bringing their case to Canada’s Supreme Court. The TMX project expands an oil pipeline system extending from the Alberta tar sands to Burnaby, BC, which runs through indigenous territories. If completed, the project will have a substantial environmental impact: tripling the amount of oil carried through the pipelines, increasing tanker traffic seven fold through the Burrard Inlet and heightening the potential for oil spills. All these risk the entire ecosystem of the Salish Sea including the preservation of orcas and salmon among other marine life.
A key legal argument the Indigenous groups set forth challenges the adequacy of indigenous consultation required by law. This action follows an initial claims court review that determined the Canadian government had failed to adequately assess the potential environmental impact. Moreover, while the case is pending and the coronavirus spreads, construction of the pipeline continues to move forward. Indigenous groups throughout Canada fear a decision upholding approval of the project will set a legal precedent undermining Indigenous rights. On the other hand, a decision in their favor will strengthen Indigenous communities’ control over their lands and waters and environmental protections.
In response to a renewed Pull Together Campaign, East Shore’s Earth & Climate Action Ministry Team (ECAM) is donating $300 to Raven Trust which provides funds to the First Nations pursuing these legal challenges. By doing so, we want to express our solidarity with and support for indigenous communities both in Canada and the United States who lead the fight not only against the TMX but also against other environmentally destructive fossil fuel projects throughout North America. We acknowledge the importance of this Campaign and its special role in protecting the Salish Sea and Pacific Northwest waterways and indigenous cultures.
Together we can be supportive allies to our indigenous friends and neighbors. Please consider donating directly online fundraise.raventrust.com/team/245912
Alternatively, considering sending a check directly to: Raven (Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs), #509, 620 View St., Victoria, BC V8W1J6CA, Canada