13 March 2018 0 Comments Posted By : CBC News

Indigenous groups lead protest against Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline plan

Thousands of people gathered in Burnaby, B.C., this weekend to participate in a First Nations-led protest against Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Indigenous leaders beat drums and sang out against the project Saturday morning, saying they won't step aside for construction.

A few hours later, a much smaller pro-pipeline rally was held downtown.

Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation told protesters that it will take more rallies and protests to stop the $7.4-billion project, which is set to increase the flow of oil products from 300,000 barrels to 890,000 barrels per day.

"It's going to take gatherings such as this ... [to] make sure the environment is not laid to waste and taken away from future generations. This is what we stand for today," George said, speaking by megaphone to the crowd gathered outside Burnaby's Lake City Way Skytrain station.

Kinder Morgan received federal approval in November 2016 for an expansion of the pipeline, which runs between Edmonton and Burnaby.

Burnaby RCMP said 5,000 people took part in the anti-pipeline protest, though estimates from the protesters were much higher. About 200 people appeared at the afternoon's pro-pipeline event.

Watch house constructed

Members of the Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam and Squamish First Nations organized Saturday's march, which led to a "watch house" being constructed by the Indigenous groups to observe tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet.

George explained that structures like this, known as "Kwekwecnewtxw," were traditionally built by Coast Salish peoples to watch for enemies. He said the environmental threat posed by the pipeline expansion constitutes such an enemy.

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