Over 150 protesters, including two politicians, have been arrested by the Canadian authorities over the past week for their protest against the expansion of Canada's US$7.4 billion Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline, local media reported Saturday.
The arrests of Indigenous activists, lawmakers, students, including Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and Burnaby South MP Kennedy Stewart, followed Friday's day of action, where protesters mounted outside the gate of a Kinder Morgan construction site on Burnaby Mountain.
The demonstrators took part in nearly 50 actions across the North American country, with people taking to streets in Canada's capital as well.
"We’re putting our bodies on the line in the right way," said Clayton Thomas-Müller, a Manitoba Cree man and environmental activist with the group 350.org who attached himself to the gate. "Investors in Kinder Morgan, we’re putting you on notice. You need to divest from Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain projects now."
The protesters chanted slogans, like, "Climate leaders don't build pipelines" calling out Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who approved the project's expansion in 2016.
"Kinder Morgan does not have consent for this project," said Anna Gerrard, an activist with Climate Justice Edmonton who participated in a sit-in at the Kinder Morgan Canada's downtown Calgary office on Friday, according to Common Dreams. "Second to this, our ability to proceed with a national climate strategy should not be negotiated around the construction of a massive fossil fuel project."
"We're standing in support of Indigenous autonomy," she added. "We believe that it's time for a new narrative in this country; one that is not dictated by Big Oil but instead supports life and the much-needed healing of the land and people."
According to Vice News, the protesters' immediate strategy behind the protest is to puncture the US$7.4 billion-pipeline expansion by delaying the construction in the lead up to March 26, when the migratory bird protection laws may stop the company from clearing trees and other construction work at least until August which may dissuade the investors.
In the lead up to the Friday's day of action, on March 17, the British Columbia police authorities arrested 28 anti-pipeline protesters, the first in a string of sanctions levied against the protesters at the Burnaby Mountain.
Since its inception, Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline System has transported oil through the 1,150 km-long stretch from Alberta to British Columbia coast. The expansion project approved in 2016 would triple the flow of oil products.
Amina Moustaqim-Barrette, a representative of the collective, Protect the Inlet, rejected the plans for expansion telling CTV News, "The community isn't going to lay down and just accept that this pipeline is going to be built. They're going to show their opposition very loudly and very purposefully."
The Indigenous communities also signed a Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion on Sept. 22, 2016, which opposes the expansion of the Alberta Tar Sands.
The treaty, signed by a coalition of 150 Indigenous groups, is designed to oppose Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline project, along with Enbridge's Line 3 and TransCanada's Keystone XL. Plans to build Enbridge's Northern Gateway and TransCanada's Energy East have already been halted through the efforts of the activists.
"Prime Minister Trudeau personally told me he would protect our water just like he promised everyone that he would be a climate leader – instead, he continues to push for three oil sands pipelines: Kinder Morgan, Line 3 and Keystone XL," Autumn Peltier, a 13-year old water advocate from the Wikwemikong First Nation in northern Ontario said in a recent address to the U.N. General Assembly in New York marking World Water Day.
"As politicians fail us, so many people are standing up to support the right of Indigenous Peoples to say NO to these pipelines, like the 150 Nations all along the pipeline routes who have signed the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion."
On March 10, Peltier also led a delegation of Treaty Alliance Chiefs from across Canada to British Colombia, along with thousands of Coast Protectors, the "Kwekwecnewtxw - Protect the Inlet" project, to support the anti-Kinder Morgan pipeline protesters.
Kwekwecnewtxw, which loosely translates to 'a place to watch from,' are Coast Salish water protectors who built a traditional Watch House in the path of the Kinder Morgan pipeline.