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Indigenous people encourage others to join in fight against pipeline

  • Written by Sharon Kivisto

Greenpeace's Arctic Sunrise was tracing the route that would see a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic if the Trans-Mountain pipeline expansion is built when crew members spotted killer whales. Ironically it was in the area that Kinder-Morgan, the company that originally owned the project, had cited as the most likely spot for an oil spill to happen, said Kayah George, an activist and member of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Tulalip Tribe. 

Kayah George is working to stop the Trans-Mountain pipeline.

Tanker traffic for the transportation of oil tar sands would increase from 5 to 35 per month. Environmentalists are concerned about the danger of an oil spill. The oil tar sands are  heavier than regular oil and sinks to the bottom, making clean up next to impossible. Only 1 to 2 percent of a spill is estimated to be cleaned up after such a spill.

While moored in Friday Harbor, activists and reporters were invited to tour the ship. 19-year-old Kayah George said there is 100 percent consensus among the Indigenous people against the pipelines. "We are trying to preserve the land for all generations," she said. "I am using my voice to stand up for the orcas, for the Salish Sea." 

George, who is following in the activist footprints of her great-grandfather, grandmother and father, is optimistic the pipeline can be stopped.  She hopes her future children will not have to be fighting this battle. She has been fighting against pipelines since she was 10 years old. 

The decision of the Trudeau government to purchase the project after Kinder-Morgan gave up, was a huge blow to the Indigenous people. "It was a lack of respect," she said. "Ironically, they are supposed to represent us. It was a slap in the face."

The government is seeking a buyer for the project. George hopes continued protests will deter any corporation from buying the project from the Canadian government. 

Another approach of the protest movement is to defund the project. "We need to cut the head off the black snake," Kayah  said. 

The report released by Greenpeace on June 26 includes links to information about HSBC choosing not to fund anymore pipeline projects

Greenpeace Senior Communications Strategist Yianni Varonis said one way citizens can help is by signing the petition asking Washington State Governor Jay Inslee to use the full force of his office to oppose the pipeline.

The negative effect of the noise from the increased tanker traffic on the endangered J, K and L killer whale pods is one of the major concerns of the protesters. 

George said, "We believe that the Earth is holy, all feet that walk on it are blessed."

Her great-grandfather Chief George said years ago, "Never has there been a time when animals are more in need of human compassion."  










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