Solidarity rally in Toronto on October 14 against TC Energy pipelines on Turtle Island

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Rising Tide Toronto has posted on Instagram:

“Join a coalition of Indigenous Land Defenders and allied activists uniting against fossil fuel company, TC Energy. In solidarity with Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island, this day will be a rallying call to say NO to pipelines, NO to policing, and NO to the corporate greed that is burning the planet. Stay tuned for more details on this urgent call to action! Film screening and panel – October 13. Rally – October 14.”

According to this TC Energy map, the Calgary-based company currently has three gas pipelines in development/under construction: the Coastal GasLink pipeline (Canada) and the Tula pipeline and Southeast Gateway pipeline (Mexico).

The Union of Indigenous Communities from the North of the Isthmus (UCIZONI) has expressed its opposition to the Southeast Gateway (Gasoducto Puerta al Sureste) offshore pipeline, primarily because of the threat it poses to the coral reef corridor in the Gulf of Mexico and because it would connect with the controversial Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (CIIT) that has been implicated in the repression of Indigenous Mixe and Zapotec land defenders opposed to this megaproject.

Additionally, Mixtec, Otomi and Nahua land defenders oppose the Tula pipeline being built on their territories in Mexico, while Wet’suwet’en land defenders oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline being built on their yintah in northern British Columbia.

The Tula pipeline project

On January 15-16, 2022, the Peace Brigades International-Mexico Project accompanied the organizations, defenders and communities who were gathered in the town of Cuanalá in the state of Puebla, Mexico to participate in the National Meeting of Struggles against Gas Pipelines and Death Projects.

The Regional Council of Indigenous Peoples in Defence of the Territory of Puebla and Hidalgo was present at this National Meeting.

They oppose the Tula Pipeline Project, a 287 kilometre gas pipeline that would extend from Tuxpan, Veracruz to the states of Puebla and Hidalgo.

Timeline of resistance

In March 2017, Mongabay reported that the Indigenous Otomi community of San Pablito in the state of Puebla “points out that this megaproject of the TransCanada company threatens the sacred places of the Otomi people, but also the groundwater, the collection of water from the subsoil and therefore the recovery of water sources.”

That article explains the Tula pipeline threatens the “unique ecosystem” of the Mesophilic Forest and the Cerro del Brujo in San Pablito, a hill that is a source of water that “besides being totally drinkable, is considered sacred and with healing powers.”

By January 2020, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador stated: “Although we have to pay, the pipeline will not pass through the sacred hills.” But because the pipeline continues to put communities at risk, the Regional Council of Indigenous Peoples said it “will maintain the demand for cancellation of the project.”

In July 2021, Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng visited the TC Energy office in Mexico City and tweeted about “the community-centered business approach of TC Energy, the largest Canadian investor in the country.”

By August 2021, Reuters reported on a new pact between Mexico’s state power utility (the Federal Electricity Commission/ CFE) and TC Energy to “step up efforts to help TC Energy complete the Tuxpan-Tula pipeline after work stalled over concerns the project would cut across lands local communities consider sacred.”

By January 2022, La Jornada de Oriente reported: “Hortensia Reyes Valdivia, a member of the Regional Council of Indigenous Peoples, explained the route was modified after the judiciary recognized the existence of springs and sacred places in the territory, and that the project would affect the collective right to land and territory of the indigenous communities of the states of Veracruz, Puebla and Hidalgo.”

Significantly, that article adds: “After the modification of the Tuxpan-Tula Gas Pipeline route for affecting sacred places, the new area of influence of the megaproject will include 26 localities of Huauchinango and Xicotepec [municipalities in the state of Puebla], [but] the new route only recognizes five indigenous communities in which through consultations, they can decide the fate of their territory.”

Then in February 2022, Lado B reported: “To date, SENER [the Mexican Secretariat of Energy] has published only a list of the communities of Huauchinango and Xicotepec through which the pipeline will pass; It should be noted that five of them, such as [the Nahuatl community of] Tepaptlaxco in [the municipality of] Xicotepec, and Cuauxinca in [the municipality of] Huachinango are indigenous, so for a megaproject such as the gas pipeline to pass, they must be consulted beforehand. This, in accordance with the provisions of Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization (ILO), and with the provisions of the Political Constitution itself on the rights of indigenous peoples.”

Last month, World Pipelines reported: “The Tuxpan-Tula pipeline (0.9 billion ft3/d) is expected to begin full service in 2025.”

EDC support for TC Energy

In July 2023, Canada’s environment minister Steven Guilbeault said the government will announce a plan by the end of 2024 to phase out the public financing, including by Export Development Canada (EDC), of “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies.

An analysis by The Globe and Mail found that EDC has provided TransCanada Pipelines (now TC Energy) with a minimum of $1 billion in funding between 2001 and the end of 2020. On April 28, 2020, EDC signed an agreement with TC Energy to lend between $250 million and $500 million for the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

Guilbeault’s promise does not guarantee that Canada will not continue to provide subsidies and political support to TC Energy pipelines on Turtle Island.

Solidarity across Turtle Island

On December 6, 2021, the team that worked with diverse communities to produce the report “Territories of Water: the defense of community areas and the shared history of their peoples (before the Tuxpan-Tula gas pipeline)” presented this report to the Regional Council of Indigenous Peoples in Defence of the Territory of Puebla and Hidalgo.

At that time, GRAIN reported: “The people of the Regional Council accepted and celebrated the document, and pledged to continue their struggle, and eventually to establish links with the Wet’suwet’en communities resisting TC-Energy in Canada.”

The rally in Toronto on October 14 will be an opportunity to connect the Indigenous resistance to the TC Energy Tula pipeline project in Mexico with the Wet’suwet’en resistance to the Coastal GasLink pipeline on their territory.

Stay tuned for more details about the events planned in Toronto as well as soon-to-be-announced activities in Ottawa.

Map of TC Energy operations on Turtle Island.

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