On Thursday, Rueben George, watched over Amy George, as her and Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, along with other indigenous leaders were arrested for crossing the police line at the lower Kinder Morgan drilling site on Burnaby mountain.
Amy George is a 71-year-old Tsleil-Waututh elder, a pipe carrier, a sundancer and a spirit dancer. She is also the daughter of Chief Dan George, and the mother of Rueben George, a Sundance Chief, and longtime critic of the Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion proposal.
Prior to the arrests, a host of First Nation leaders made speeches denouncing the Albertan oil industry and its impacts on people living downstream of the oil sands.
“Warrior up!” people shouted, as Amy George, denounced the environmental and health damage caused by oil companies in Alberta’s oil sands.
“I’m a warrior, and I will fight for this land,” she said, breaking into tears as she expressed the sorrow she felt as she saw the health effects of the oil sands on northern Alberta First Nations and vowed not to allow the same happen to her grandchildren.
After helping his mother, cross the police line, proud son Rueben George led a procession of family members and supporters through the forest trails, down to the site where she would eventually appear for police processing.
George and others gathered on Ridgeview Drive, a street in a local Burnaby neighbourhood where police vans had parked, ready to receive the arrestees.
George told the Vancouver Observer that he was worried about is mother “because she’s in her 70s” and “has arthritis.”
“But she’s a warrior” he continued, “She’s the one that said ‘Warrior Up.’ But I’m still worried, she’s still my mother.”
When asked to comment on the day’s events, he spoke about his mother’s example, and the leadership of other First Nations elders, such as Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, who was also taken into custody by RCMP further up the hill.
“My mom, first of all, is amazing. What I’ve been taught is to have an intimate connection to the lands and to the waters and my mom she stood up and she expressed what you should do when the things that you love are threatened, and she got arrested with Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, too, who is also an uncle of mine.”
“It is so touching and beautiful to see our elders leading the way to make sure that we all have a better future.”
“I’m really touched. It’s really emotional. The actions of what they’re doing is not just for us as Tsleil-Waututh people or the First Nations of British Columbia, it’s for everybody.
When Amy George finally appeared from out of the forest in the company of Grand Chief Phillip, she was escorted by RCMP and supporters to a waiting ambulance.
Rueben George stood near the entrance to the ambulance, waiting for his mother to emerge.
Once the paramedics had finished checking over Amy George, she exited the ambulance and greeted her anxious son, who was pleased that his mother’s condition was stable.
Both Amy George and Grand Chief Phillip were soon inside a police van and were driven back up to the top of Burnaby Mountain and the main protest site on Centennial Drive.
Neither of the two First Nations elders were charged by the RCMP in keeping with the discretion the police have shown in releasing elders and seniors without charge, and also in keeping with Justice Austin Cullen’s announcement that all charges of civil contempt for protesters arrested so far on Burnaby Mountain would be thrown out.