Wednesday, September 29, 2010

First Nation Says: Oil Companies Shall Not Pass

First Nation says: Oil companies shall not pass

By G. Dunkel
Published Sep 26, 2010 8:45 PM

From British Columbia to Quebec, from Canada to the United States to the United Kingdom, a movement inspired by the resistance of the Unist’ot’en of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation people to an oil pipeline proposed by the pipeline giant Enbridge is gaining momentum.

Enbridge has a long history of pipeline spills, including one of a million gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in July.

Oil extracted from tar sands is the most expensive, polluting oil in commercial production. The proposed pipeline would move 525,000 barrels of oil a day. It would cross 785 watercourses, fragment wildlife habitat and impact fragile salmon fisheries.

The Wet’suwet’en/Unist’ot’en First Nations Environmental Action Camp was built early in 2010 on traditional lands in central British Columbia. The camp is located on the path the oil companies have picked to take oil from the tar sands of Alberta to a port on the northern coast of British Columbia.

But the Wet’Suwet’En didn’t just build a camp. To inaugurate it, they invited members of nearby communities, the Indigenous Environmental Network, the Council of Canadians and others to spend five days connecting with the land and discussing strategies and tactics to protect it.

As one of their leaders told the Canadian progressive web site, “The Action Camp was devised to draw in more of our clans’ membership to learn of peaceful means to protect their lands and waters, and to unite nations in their opposition to the tar sands giga-project.”

On July 16 a rally was called in Smithers, B.C., to gather together all the people opposed to the pipeline. On Sept. 8 hundreds rallied in Prince George, the main commercial center in northern British Columbia, and also in Vancouver, calling on the government to deny the permit Enbridge needed.

The same day the rallies in British Columbia were taking place, a crowd greeted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Ottawa. She had come there to meet with politicians and executives promoting tar sands.

In August many Wet’suwet’en community members made the long trip to Fort McMurray in northern Alberta, ground zero of tar sands exploitation, for the first Healing Walk held there. Over 150 people took part in the 8-mile trek through the heart of Canada’s largest industrial devastation, calling for healing the land, water, skies and animals that try to live amidst this pollution.

Members of the tar sands-impacted communities took part in the protests at the G-20 in Toronto, the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit and a 16-day Climate Camp outside of Montreal. Two activists from northern British Columbia even managed to make their way to the Climate Camp in the United Kingdom.
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