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'Not until we die will we stop': Pipeline opponents rally before key decision
Three-and-a-half year old Maya is hiding behind a handmade cardboard sign that reads: "The Earth is my only home."
Her mother, Carolyn Zwicky-Perez of Burnaby, holds her hand, and another sign that reads: "No pipelines in a climate crisis."
They are just two out of hundreds of Indigenous leaders, students, community organizers, and ordinary people who turned out Sunday afternoon in Vancouver to rally against the proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
“I want her to know that her mother took a stand for her, and for her future,” Zwicky-Perez says.
The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project would trip the amount of product coming to British Columbia and multiply the tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet by as much as sevenfold.
The federal government is anticipated to decide the fate of the contentious project by June 18.
Zwicky-Perez wants the Prime Minister to know that she’s watching.
“I would like them to know that I will remember and I will be voting in the future,” she says, adding that for her, climate change, and by extension the pipeline, is the most critical issue this election.
On the banks of False Creek, a group of friends from Salt Spring Island hoist what look like hand-carved and hand-painted orcas and fish into the air.
“We don’t want tankers on our coastline,” Susan Painter says. “Not until we die, will we stop.”
Ann Grant from Vancouver holds a globe and a Justin Trudeau paper head cut-out on a fishing pole, both covered in mock-oil with a sign that reads, "No jobs on a dead planet."
“Get serious and don’t play around,” Grant says. “We know it’s an emergency…now we have to act like what the emergency is.”
Long-time pipeline opponent Chief Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith First Nation near Kamloops was one of a dozen speakers and performers who rallied the crowd.
“There’s been really no consultation,” Wilson says. “It’s worse than the first time…the message is still no consent over this pipeline.”
In August of 2018, Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal overturned approval of the twinning of the pipeline from Alberta to B.C., because it said not enough work had been done to assess the impacts on marine life and not enough meaningful consultation had been done with First Nations.
In February, Canada’s National Energy Board gave the pipeline, which Ottawa bought from Trans Mountain for $4.5 billion, the thumbs up, saying it remained in the public interest of Canadians.
The government is widely expected to approve the expansion, and activists say they won’t give up their fight.
“Maybe [Trudeau] wakes up that day and says no,” says Chief Wilson. “But if he makes the wrong decision, it’s going to be continued resistance.”