A spokesperson said the Kwantlen First Nation is preparing to block the path of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in the Lower Mainland by building a healing lodge.
Kwantlen spokesperson Brandon Gabriel told Black Press that after several years of holding demonstrations against the project, members felt something more was called for.
“What we decided, as a community, was the protests were effective at getting attention, but they are limited,” Gabriel said.
“The general consensus that we’re receiving is that the Kwantlen community members want to take a stand.”
Gabriel said the building, which he described as a “scaled-down longhouse-style structure” will be built by the spring, possibly sooner, in the Langley area.
He said the exact location isn’t being disclosed right now “for strategic purposes and for safety reasons for our members.”
Gabriel said the intent is to have a non-violent “sustained occupation” without clashing with Kinder Morgan security.
“We are really trying to avoid that,” Gabriel said.
“Our goal is to be peaceful.”
He said the lodge “is to honour the many generations of Kwantlen members who have endured the legacy of the residential school system.”
An online fundraiser for the Kwantlen “water and land protection fund” has passed it’s goal of $4,000.
As of Friday night, donations through the http://standwithkwantlen.org site had reached $6,200.
“Kwantlen’s traditional lands and the Fraser River are in the way of Kinder Morgan’s pipeline, so there is a duty to (be) supporting the sovereign First Nations resisting this egregious environmental abuse” the website said.
Kinder Morgan operates its existing Trans Mountain pipeline through parts of North Langley, Fort Langley and Walnut Grove.
It plans to twin the existing pipeline, which began operating in 1953, through most of Langley.
Kinder Morgan wants to triple its capacity for oil which would be piped from Alberta through numerous B.C. communities to the Burnaby marine terminal. Some would be used at the existing Chevron refinery, but the vast majority would be shipped as crude oil via tanker to Asian customers.
In November of last year, the Trudeau government approved Kinder Morgan’s proposal to twin the 63-year-old Trans Mountain pipeline to Burnaby, and rejected Enbridge’s Northern Gateway oil pipeline across northern B.C. to Kitimat.
Trudeau said more pipeline capacity is needed to keep oil from travelling by rail across the country, at greater risk to communities.
“We have made this decision because it is safe for B.C. and it is the right one for Canada.”
A National Energy Board review panel found the $7.4-billion Trans Mountain project is in the national interest, unlikely to cause significant adverse environmental effects, and its benefits outweigh any “residual burdens.”
The report did flag significant adverse effects from increased tanker traffic, causing impacts to southern resident killer whales, but it notes marine shipping is projected to increase with or without the pipeline, and tankers would be a small fraction of that.
Wider access to world markets for Canadian oil, government revenues, and thousands of construction jobs were among the benefits listed.
-with files from Black Press