Members of the Kwantlen First Nation in Langley made their voices heard in Toronto last week during a protest against Kinder Morgan.
The protest — staged by Greenpeace Canada at the headquarters of TD Bank — projected 15-foot-high holograms of several Indigenous people who were asking the bank to stop financing Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
The project was approved by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in November 2016, and would see the Trans Mountain pipeline twinned from Edmonton to Burnaby.
Kwantlen member Brandon Gabriel was featured in both the hologram and another Greenpeace video related to the protest, where he reaffirmed Kwantlen First Nation’s opposition to the project. This video is part of a series of actions and events Gabriel says they are planning in the coming months.
“This film was one of the projects that we wanted to do. And one of the reasons that we did it was because we wanted to send a message in a very creative way, but we also didn’t want to come up against the usual resistance from private security from the bank that we are protesting,” Gabriel told the Times.
“And we felt that this would be a really cool way to do it. And it’s actually received quite a lot of recognition internationally.”
Among the people featured in the hologram was Gabriel’s wife, Melinda Bige, of the Lutsel-K’e Dene Nation.
“This is a choice that you have made,” Bige said in the film. “We see you TD bank … We see you and we’re not going to let this happen, so take your money and put it somewhere else, because it doesn’t belong here in our land … People are watching you.”
Specifically in Langley, Gabriel said the Kwantlen community is concerned about the pipeline crossing the Fraser River near the Port Mann Bridge.
“This is just a short distance from our traditional fishing grounds,” Gabriel said. “We have demonstrated to the National Energy Board of Canada, as well as to the federal government of Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, that the Kwantlen Nation relies heavily upon the salmon fishery as a means to make a living, (and) also as a way to feed community members and for ceremonial purposes as well.”
Beyond their water concerns, the Kwantlen Nation is also worried about the impact the industry is having on communities in Northern Alberta, Gabriel added.
“One of the main arguments by people who are pro pipeline (is) that the pipeline is the safest way to transport this hazardous material. And very few people are actually looking at the degradation — the permanent degradation — that is happening to the ecology where they are sourcing the material,” Gabriel said.
“For us, that’s a big concern. What’s happening in Alberta in the tar sands is causing a lot of irrefutable harm to the environment, but also there are a lot of communities that are having an increase in major health issues as a result of the toxins going into the air.”