Boats, canoes and dozens of pipeline protesters took to the waters near the Kinder Morgan Westridge tanker terminal in Burnaby Saturday with a water ceremony and demonstration against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
Tsleil-Waututh elder Ta’ah Amy George led the water ceremony from a traditional Coast Salish canoe, followed by a canoe from a visiting Nation, kayaks, supporting watercraft and the captain and crew from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise.
“This water ceremony is about honouring our relationship to the water which has sustained our communities for thousands of years,” Protect the Inlet organizer Roxanne Charles said in a news release.
Protect the Inlet has hosted numerous protests on land near the Burnaby terminal, including a march that attracted more than 1,000 participants on the same day as a counter-protest.
“It seems like the importance of our waters, our whales, our forests, our eagles, our salmon, and our people are not as important to the government of Canada as costs to corporate profit,” Charles said. “There seems to be no understanding of the cost that this destruction causes to our well-being as Indigenous peoples, or the impact it has on our children and future generations.”
The group outside the floating 10-foot razor-wire fence, which Kinder Morgan erected outside their Westridge Marine Terminal construction site in November, before heading back to land and continuing the protest.
Burnaby RCMP issued a warning on Friday about the demonstration, warning protesters not to block the Inlet, and RCMP liaison staff were near the terminal monitoring the Saturday event.
“Should they put themselves in harm’s way, demonstrators are not only putting their own lives at risk, they are also putting the lives of responding police officers and members of the public at risk too,” RCMP said in a statement.
Meanwhile, in Clearwater, other protesters occupied a popular provincial park for about a week before being evicted Thursday. One arrest was made Saturday.
The pipeline expansion project continues to be a contentious issue for British Columbians. The federal government announced the purchase of the pipeline from Texas-based Kinder Morgan in May for $4.5 billion.
Protests have been ongoing at the terminal for months, with some demonstrations leading to arrests.