Cree land defender sets up tipi on the route of the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline project

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Photo: Cree land defender Khursten Bullock. Photo by Aaron Hemens.

IndigiNews reports on Cree land defender Khursten Bullock from Treaty 7 territory in the province of Saskatchewan is staying in a tipi beside the Brunette River on the route of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (TMX) in the city of Burnaby, British Columbia.

The tar sands oil pipeline, owned by the Canadian government since May 2018, is being expanded from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day.

“The tipi — with poles that span about eight metres —  has been standing along the pipeline’s undeveloped route since it was first assembled on Dec. 4. The tipi is owned by Ramona Shirt of Cold Lake First Nations, who came up with the idea to assemble the structure with Bullock and their allies at Protect the Planet.”

The article highlights the tipi has a large “Land Back” sign as well as “a red dress to honour Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Two-Spirit People (MMIWG2S), to hang amongst the trees for passing vehicles to see.”

“Hundreds of kilometres away in Secwépemc territory, Indigenous land defenders and their allies are awaiting trial and potential jail time for opposing the project’s development there.[The pipeline would cross 518 kilometres of unceded Secwepemc territory and] many have argued that TMX and “Canada” have no jurisdiction in the nation’s unceded homelands, and they fear the fate of water and salmon if the pipeline is ever up and running.”

And the article notes: “A hanging sign above a short fence warns that they’re entering TMX property, and that any person who obstructs access to the construction site is a breach of an injunction order.” But so far “TMX personnel have not addressed the land defenders regarding the tipi, according to Bullock. The only reaction that they received were from police, she said, who visited the tipi as it was being constructed.”

“The plan is to keep the tipi in place for a few more months, unless the land defenders are met with opposition from TMX. Bullock said that Shirt has expressed interest in moving the tipi to the Every Child Matters vigil site outside of the Vancouver Art Gallery at some point in the summer.”

The full article by Aaron Hemens can be read at: Land defenders build tipi along TMX construction route in ‘Burnaby’.

The C-IRG and TMX

In December 2019, The Guardian reported: “The RCMP Community Industry Response Group (C-IRG) has also recently been deployed to monitor and suppress Indigenous people fighting the proposed Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline.”

Last year, APTN reported: “The C-IRG has been accused of brutality, collusion with private security firms, and excessive surveillance against the Tiny House Warriors camp, which is blocking pipeline construction by occupying unceded Secwépemc territory near Blue River. For example, group spokesperson Kanahus Manuel is suing a Mountie named Cpl. Todd Bowden, who she alleges broke her wrist when applying a wrist-lock technique during an October 2019 arrest, according to the provincial court registry.”

And earlier this year, the CBC reported that the C-IRG had spent $3.5 million policing resistance to the Trans Mountain pipeline since 2017/18.

Abolish the C-IRG

This past week, Leadnow launched a new campaign and petition that calls for an End C-IRG violence against land defenders.

Their petition highlights: “We demand transparency and accountability for the colonial violence perpetuated by the RCMP’s Community-Industry Response Group.”

PBI-Canada webinar, February 21

This webinar will discuss the role of the C-IRG in the repression of Indigenous land defence struggles in Canada, amplify demands from land defenders that the C-IRG be dismantled, and support the call for a public inquiry into its actions.

To register for this webinar, please click here.

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