On Nov. 16, Canadians united at over 130 gathering places across the country to rally against tanker and pipeline plans that could threaten the B.C. coast.
In Victoria, hundreds gathered at Clover Point on the land of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations to hear native speakers, representatives from conservation organizations, and members of Victoria City Council speak about the danger these plans could impose on the coast if put into action.
Despite light rain and heavy winds, the rally was attended by people of all ages. At one point, local musician Vince Vaccaro took the mic, playing his song “Stand as One” between speakers. Members of the crowd using social media were encouraged to use the hashtag #defendourclimate, as the most effective way to publicize rally action.
“’No’ means ‘no,’” said Caitlyn Vernon of Sierra Club B.C (a non-profit environmental protection organization). Vernon insists that the issue goes beyond Enbridge and Kinder Morgan. “It’s about responding to Indian rights, about the power of corporations, and what we are going to do about it. The typhoon in the Phillippines, this is what climate change looks like; it looks like a prime minister who doesn’t think consent is required,” she said.
Before the end of the year, the Joint Review Panel will be making a recommendation on Enbridge’s proposal for a Northern Gateway pipeline to the federal government and Kinder Morgan. According to Sierra Club B.C., if the proposals are passed, there will be increased traffic of hundreds of tankers across B.C.’s coast each year, putting the province’s waters and climate at risk.
Guy Johnston, local fisherman and active community member, spoke about his fears for B.C.’s coast if the pipeline plans are passed. “If we continue tanker use, sooner or later there will be an oil spill,” he said.
According to this year’s assessment by the Center for Global Development, Canada has been ranked last out of the surveyed 27 nations for environmental protection, based on the Commitment to Development Index (CDI). The report says Canada is the only nation that has digressed in this area since its establishment in 2003, likely due to Canada’s recent withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol and its rising fuel production.
“The government can’t say we are doing something about climate change and build this pipeline,” said Johnston.
In 2010, the Coastal First Nations enacted an Indian law-based declaration banning tankers and pipelines on B.C.’s coast. “This is not just an Indian thing anymore; it’s a people thing,” said James Taylor, traditional teacher and healer.
Vernon says that passing these plans will be bad for jobs, climate, and democracy.
After the speeches, rally attendees posed for a photograph against the wooden fence separating Dallas Road from the ocean. Jessica Brown of the Coastal First Nations left rally participants with this quote: “If you speak from your heart and speak your truth, the right people will hear.”