Wildfires prompt renewed calls to stop pipeline

Economic vision must include protection of Secwepemc territory

As wildfire rages across B.C., Secwepemc people are calling for an immediate shutdown of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline through their territory.

A news release issued by the Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty states the Secwepemc people fear the pipeline poses a serious safety hazard. They say the unprecedented increase in fires is evidence of global warming created, in part, by Alberta tar sands oil transported by Kinder Morgan.

“We are in a critical state of emergency dealing with the impacts of climate change,” said Secwepemc teacher Dawn Morrison.

Morrison, founder of the working group, says: “The health of our families and communities relies heavily on our ability to harvest wild salmon and access clean drinking water, both of which are at risk if the Kinder Morgan pipeline was ruptured or impacted by the fires.”

Spokesperson Jeffrey McNeil noted that the whole northwestern side of the Secwepemc territory is on fire, territory which includes land at Cache Creek, Williams Lake – a gathering place for the Secwepemc and Tsilhqot’in, and Clearwater.

McNeil teaches aboriginal decolonizing in the faculty of Social Work at Thompson Rivers University.

He notes there is a lot of “unknowing” about the history of the land and asks how non-indigenous and indigenous people can come together to protect it.

We have a responsibility to think about these things, he says.

With the understanding that people need to feed and clothe their families, he asks: “How do we think differently or imagine a different way forward? How can we adopt a different economy that impacts our future generations differently?

The Secwepemc’ulecw Assembly is demanding a moratorium on any pipeline proposing to transport crude or diluted bitumen through their traditional territory where they are stewards of the forests, fields and waterways that flow from the Rockies on their way to the ocean, stated the news release.

The assembly met last month to reaffirm its territorial title and authority stating: “We have never provided and will never provide our collective free, prior and informed consent – the minimal international standard – to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Project.

“We explicitly and irrevocably refuse its passage through our territory. Investors take note, there is no Secwepemc consent for Kinder Morgan. Kinder Morgan will not pass through Secwepemc Territory.”