Well over 1,000 people took to the streets of Vancouver in a very spirited, creative and loud protest against Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway and other pipeline projects. The January 14 action occurred on the opening evening of Vancouver’s public hearings of the Joint Review Panel on the issue. This process was not very public (no one but scheduled speakers could attend) and very narrowly focused. And the final say on the pipeline rests with the Harper government. Issues that matter such as climate change (and the role of the Tar Sands) and indigenous rights could not be addressed.
The action was organized by Rising Tide, a environmental justice group working to stop corporate driven environmental destruction and climate crimes, and acting in solidarity with indigenous and other front line communities. Many diverse groups endorsed the action. There was a strong indigenous presence through the ceremonies and speakers, including Idle No More organizers.
Making the Links
The DTES not for Developers Coalition (DNFD) endorsed the action. We attempted to make links between the movement resisting pipelines and environmental destruction, and pressing social justice issues in the neighbourhood.
We carried a banner saying “No Pipelines, No DTES Condos, No Displacement.” A group of supporters took to Hastings St. to march to the assembly point at Victory Square.
Indigenous folks and others understand that everything is interconnected. We wanted to show our solidarity – while raising our own needs and showing the connection between struggles.
A common thread is displacement. Many low income people in our neighbourhood face the threat of being involuntarily displaced from the community they call home, due to multiplying condo projects and gentrification. They never consented to these changes, just like indigenous nations have not consented to Enbridge’s pipeline running through their unceded territory.
The DNFD has organized town hall discussions about displacement. Local residents face an ongoing cycle. Many people end up in the DTES because they have been pushed out of other places and compelled to migrate.
Globally migration is increasing rapidly due to loss of land, poverty and injustice, war and repression, land grabbing resource mega projects, environmental destruction and increasingly, and into the future, climate change.
Colonialism dispossessed indigenous people onto tiny reserves (0.3 percent of B.C.) or off the land altogether. And many different people end up in the DTES because it is one of the very few places they can afford to live. Now as property becomes more valuable they face being uprooted again.
Our lives should not be controlled by the rich and powerful. We need to unite and find common cause with others to determine our own destiny.