Secwepemc land defenders continue to resist as Trans Mountain prepares for “peak construction” in 2021

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo from Kanahus Manuel.

Work on the 890,000 barrel per day Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline expansion is expected to resume this Monday January 4.

About half of the 1,150 kilometre-long pipeline is set to cross unceded Secwepemc territory without their free, prior and informed consent.

On December 17, the Canadian government-owned Trans Mountain Corporation announced a “voluntary project-wide safety stand down” following the death of Samatar Sahal on October 27 at the pipeline work site near Edmonton and the serious injury of an unnamed worker on December 15 at the Burnaby Terminal work site near Vancouver.

Despite this temporary shut down, that media release also highlighted: “Next year, 2021, will see peak construction for the Project, with thousands of people working in hundreds of sites across Alberta and British Columbia.”

As of December 30, the Crown corporation’s website noted in its construction schedule:

Blue River to Vavenby ROW [right of way] Preparation (March 2021 – April 2021): “Work at this site may begin as early as January pending all necessary permits and approvals.”

Valemount to Blue River ROW Preparation (August 2020 – March 2021)

Valemount Camp Community (July 2020 – August 2022): “The camp community will house up to 600 people working on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project…”

On November 17, the CEO of Trans Mountain Corporation highlighted that “camp communities” had been opened in Valemount and Clearwater.

This despite the final report by National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls concluding: “Work camps, or man camps, associated with the resource extraction industry are implicated in higher rates of violence against Indigenous women at the camps and in the neighbouring communities.”

The Secwepemc Declaration also expresses profound concerns about camps resulting in increased sexualized violence against Indigenous women.

On December 13, 2019, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination passed a resolution expressing its concern about “the approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Extension project without free, prior and informed consent by all the indigenous peoples affected.”

It then called upon the State party (Canada) “to immediately cease construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project and cancel all permits, until free, prior and informed consent is obtained from all the Secwepemc people, following the full and adequate discharge of the duty to consult.”

The full resolution from the UN Committee can be read here.

For more on the Secwepemc Tiny House Warrior land defenders seeking to stop the construction of this pipeline on their unceded territories, click here.

Kanahus Manuel: “The rcmp came at night to tell us to ‘watch your dogs’ among other taunting terrorizing statements, while flood lighting us up the whole time… This is happening while the global indigenous peoples human rights community is mourning the loss and the murder of yet another Indigenous Land Defender in the south.”

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