The Trans Mountain expansion plans to extend the pipeline by 987 kilometers, transporting 300,000 barrels of oil from Alberta to refineries in Vancouver and Washington.
Native American advocates are protesting against the controversial Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in Canada that they say violates the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Dana Wilson and Troy Olsen from the Lummi Indian Nation, who according to their website are “the original inhabitants of Washington’s northernmost coast and southern British Columbia,” tried to enter Canada’s National Energy Board proceedings on the project, but as only one was allowed in they decided to mount their objection from their Washington reserve this week.
“We’re here because we care about our future, the seven generations to come,” said Olsen, after attorney Kristen Boyles presented on behalf of Coast Salish peoples in Washington Friday, including the Swinomish, Tulalip, Suquamish and Lummi.
“I believe that Canada fully endorsed the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We are Indigenous people too, so those human rights affect us,” he added.
Adopted in September 2007 by the U.N. General Assembly, resolution 61/295 affirms that all Indigenous peoples are “equal to all other peoples” and recognizes their contribution to the “diversity and richness” of civilization.
Crucially, the resolution on Indigenous rights also recognizes the need for states to respect and promote the rights of Indigenous peoples and encourages “consultation and cooperation” with Indigenous groups in times of conflict.
The Lummi activists say that the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project would increase barge traffic along the coast “sevenfold,” making work for Native American fishermen extremely dangerous.
The expansion plans involve the extension of the pipeline by 987 kilometers, transporting 300,000 barrels of oil from Alberta to refineries in Vancouver and Washington.
“We’ll go from five oil tankers going through tribal fishing grounds a month to 37 in the Salish Sea, around the San Juan Islands and the Canadian George Islands,” Boyles told the National Observer.
Furthermore, the plan risks damaging marine wildlife, which could put a halt to their livelihood.
Third-generation fisherman Wilson fishes for salmon, halibut, crabs and prawns in his family’s small fishing boat and is teaching his son to do the same.
Before meeting with Trans Mountain in the NEB process, the Indigenous groups say that the oil company did not consult with them over the impact of the expansion.
“‘The U.S. tribes are not Aboriginal people of Canada, so it has to do nothing further,'” Boyles said, describing Trans Mountain’s position on U.S. consultation.
But “failing to consider impacts on the other side of the border matters,” Boyles emphasized, urging Canadian authorities to listen to the plight of his people.
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