Environmental Justice As Liberation: No Consent, No Pipeline, No Kinder Morgan

The headline above is for a piece posted by 

As someone whose SFU Masters Thesis focused on the importance of creativity in resistance I find it exciting and hopeful to see the  Carnival playing out right here, in British Columbia. People’s resistance taking place in so many venues — Indigenous rights and consent, housing affordability and availability throughout the province, pipelines, fracking, massive hydro power dams, fish farms and more.  British Columbians and Canadians right across the country are speaking up and doing so with creativity.

In the Lower Mainland of British Columbia the battle to stop the Kinder Morgan Pipeline is heating up.  This piece by Sarah Beuhler gives an excellent overview of the strategy involved in mobilizing and fighting this project.

Stop KM
Burnaby Mountain, April, 2018

Against the power of governments who were falsely elected on the basis of new, community driven strategies with collusion from corporate driven mainstream media,  the Kinder Morgan pipeline battle in BC, as well as the Fight against Site C and ocean-based fish farms and fracking are  examples of  mobilizations  to protect land and water and the beings who depend on them. They are led by Indigenous leaders from the BC Union of Indian Chiefs to hundreds of small communities whose lives and livelihoods are historically and legally tied to the unceded territories. And settlers are following — finally.

Across Canada, in North and South America and throughout the colonized world, Indigenous Communities are fighting back with vigour and great creativity and are being joined by thousands, millions of settler communities who have learned to respect and understand that without the full and prior consent of the Indigenous in traditional territories , the land’s truth keepers —  sustainable progress will not ensue.

Sarah’s piece invites the public to understand the story of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline currently in an expansion mode that could increase the flow of Bitumen by 7 times what is currently transported via pipeline from Alberta.

It would then be loaded onto huge tankers 7 per week and carted off to who knows where.  Bitumen is described in Cambridge English dictionary as  “a black viscous mixture of hydrocarbons obtained naturally or as a residue from petroleum distillation. It is used for road surfacing and roofing.” Thin that out for easy flow with toxic chemicals and imagine what is travelling through the mountains across the lands, under the rivers and under the inlet and could increase to the point of danger.

Sarah’s Coast Protector story is the full story of the project and the strategies that have been developed, used, set aside and re-considered.

I hope you find it as instructive as I did.  As for the Carnival, think of the massive strategically organized resistance against the Dakota Pipeline, of the thousands of actions organized by Indigenous people against Canadian and other mining companies in their territories and the demands to stop massive dams, stop polluting rivers, stop exploiting for profit without thought of human survival. Think of all the tiny houses being built along the Trans Mountain Pipeline route, think of the years and years of protests ongoing against the Site C Dam. The songs, performances, cyber actions,  public arrests, the displays of respectful resistance are all marks of the carnival.

In my brief look at carnival I examined resistance against a backdrop of social and political movements whose histories were linked to the carnival through their disdain for power from above and their creative means of subverting that power.

At Kinder Morgan, Site C and throughout the world of resistance, let the carnival continue with thanks.

 

THE SOUTH LAWN (click here to read Sarah’s piece) 

Watchouse
The Watch House

 

Continue reading “Environmental Justice As Liberation: No Consent, No Pipeline, No Kinder Morgan”

Weaving Reconciliation: Our Way  

From Vancouver Moving Theatre

It’s finally happening!! After many years of listening, writing, visiting partnering communities and fundraising Weaving Reconciliation: Our Way is now ready to tour across Turtle Island/Canada.

WROW Sophie Merasty and Marge White, photo D. Cooper
Sofie Maresty and Marge White. Photo by David Cooper

And it’s starting here on Coast Salish territory at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre May 17-27, 2018.

Weaving Reconciliation: Our Way is a new play and cultural encounter that brings to life the story of Old One and his journey to reconcile with himself, his family and his community.
Woven around indigenous storytelling and cultural teachings, Weaving Reconciliation: Our Way is co-written by award-winning artists Renae Morriseau (Saulteaux Cree) with Rosemary Georgeson (Coast Salish/Sahtu Dene) and Savannah Walling (American Canadian). It is also enriched by contributions from the cast, knowledge-keepers and partnering communities.

Vancouver Moving Theatre is  also so thrilled to announce the cast of Weaving Reconciliation: Our Way:

Sam Bob   (Snaw-Naw-As/Coast Salish)
Stephen Lytton   (Nicomen Indian Band, Nlaka’pamux First Nation)
Marge White   (Huu-ay-aht First Nation)
Tai Amy Grauman   (Metis/Iroquois Cree)
Jonathan Fisher   (Pottawattami, Wikwemikong Unceded Reserve)
Sophie Merasty   (Dene/Woodlands Cree Nations)
Latash Maurice Nahanee   (Squamish Nation)
Tracey Nepinak   (Cree/Peguis First Nation)
Tania Carter   (Salish)
Vern Bevis   (Okanagan Nation)

The cast will be joined on stage by local youth and cultural knowledge keepers from each host community on the tour. Please follow us on facebook and visit www.weaving-reconciliation-our-way.ca to find out more.

More about WROW from Vancouver Moving Theatre

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in BC Supreme Court next week: So what’s next? Ask the “rule of law” judge!

April 11, 2018, many water and coast defenders went to a first BC Supreme Court appearance for their roles in resisting the Kinder Morgan — Texas oil giant’s current BC/Albert boondoggle.

One particularly interesting observation by an arrestee was the presence of KM undercover, plain clothes security who were allowed into the courtroom otherwise denied to those who were not part of the actual proceedings.

Meanwhile across the country, the games being played between governments increased with the day while they collectively ignore the the leadership strengths and presence of BC’s Indigenous Peoples,  leaders like Grand Chief Stuart Phillips and Chief Bob Chamberlin go virtually unmentioned with focus being instead on interloper governments and ignoring sovereignty.

Thanks  go to CBC On the Coast’s Louise Elliot for a good interview with Chief Chamberlin on the topic of general First Nations leaders absence from mention in the media or among the Ministers — prime and not so prime of Alberta and BC. Unfortunately CBC The Current decided that the Vancouver Sun’sVaughn Palmer was the best journey to represent BC on the tar sands topic.  As with most mainstream journalists in BC they love to describe the polls as reflecting that most British Columbians are in favour of the KM project.  Speak up people and let your voices be heard!!!

Interesting to note that unlike the Canadian and Provincial Governments the Chiefs speak respectfully of each other — even those who have signed with KM. And that came out loud and clear in the interview.

Settler community people involved in the resistance to KM and Site C and fracking and the poisonous fish farming are learning so much from the relationships with these leaders, matriarchs, dancers, singers, story tellers and keepers of traditional knowledge. Respect, prayer and ceremony have taken on so much more meaning to those of us who have become active resisters.

Remember this? Substitute KM … !

 

One 0f 200 arrested for taking a stand against tar-filled pipelines coming to the coast

Lmleclair_KinderMorgan_22March2018_001
Enter a caption

On March 22, I became the 140th person to be arrested standing at the gate to the Kinder Morgan disaster that is happening on Burnaby Mountain.  Although i’ve been involved in many and various activities during my more than 50 years as a feminist, labour and cultural activist, I’ve never been arrested before.

Tomorrow about 170 of us have been summoned to court to find out how the system will deal with our refusal to accept Justin Trudeau’s order to let the Texas-based Kinder Morgan proceed with completing a pipeline to transport dirty,  heavy and chemical-laden bitumen through forests and neighbourhoods to the Fraser River and beyond.

I’m proud to have taken a stand.  I will continue to do so.  I’m grateful for the leadership of the Indigenous Coast Protectors (@coastprotectors), for all the Indigenous Matriarchs and for the thousands who have stood up for First Nations rights and the rights of all people to live and breathe without being poisoned.

Thanks to Arthur Manuel for encouraging so many in the settler communities on this journey.

Lmleclair_KinderMorgan_22March2018_007

Many thanks to Ta’ah Amy George, Tsleil=Waututh Matriarch, UBCIC Grand Chief , Stuart Phillips with Naomi Klein  (@NaomiKlein) and Chief Bob Chamberln (@ChiefBobbyc). This is national and international leadership!

 

 

 

The BC Government Budget did not diffuse the Site C debt Bomb

Some wonderful things happened with the B.C. budget this February, except for the big Site C debt bomb that did not get defused, instead receiving an additional $2 billion.

Full commentary by Rita Wong  at:  https://www.straight.com/news/1045821/rita-wong-connecting-dots-between-bc-budget-and-solidarity-economy

 

Rita Wong supports the work of Fight C, the Peace Valley Solidarity Initiative, and Poets for the Peace to see justice in our times. A poet-scholar who has written several books of poetry, she has also coedited, with Dorothy Christian, an anthology entitled Downstream: Reimagining Water. She lives, works, and strives for water justice on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, where she has pledged to #ProtectTheInlet.

We all have a stake in the Peace River

Louiseleclair.com

Media Release

Peace River Solidarity in Vancouver

First Nations and Farmers Working Together to Save the Peace

March 21, 2018—Imagine the outcry in Vancouver and across the Lower Mainland if the B.C. government decided to flood the Fraser Valley to produce cheap hydro for Washington and Oregon.

Now imagine flooding Indigenous territory, equivalent to the distance between Maple Ridge and Hope, protected under the Treaty 8 agreement of 1899, and doing so without the consent of those who have lived there for thousands of years.

Imagine flooding some of the most fertile agricultural land in B.C., when proven sustainable alternatives for hydro production are available.

That is the danger facing the Peace River Valley.

On Monday, March 26, between 7:00 and 9:00 pm, First Nations speakers will join with representatives of the Peace Valley Environment Association to share stories of what is happening up north. The event, open to everyone by donation, takes place at the Native Education College, 237 East 5th Avenue in Vancouver.

The evening’s message is “We all have a stake in the Peace River,” and the evening will be one of sharing, learning, solidarity and support. Music, storytelling and more will give attendees a full picture of what’s at stake for British Columbians and Canadians if the Peace River is flooded once again.

Presenters include Connie Greyeyes-Dick, a member of the Treaty 8 First Nations from Bigstone Cree Nation; a grassroots activist from Fort St. John; and a spokesperson from Amnesty International, as well as Ken and Arlene Boon, farmers and members of the Peace Valley Environment Association, a group that has worked tirelessly to protect B.C. from the destructive Site C dam.

The event is a fundraiser to support three Indigenous groups fighting legal battles to save the Peace — the West Moberly First Nation, the Prophet River First Nation and the Blueberry River First Nation — as well as the Peace Valley Landowners Association. To donate online, go to http: www.stakeinthepeace.co

Information:   Rita Wong — 604.653.4006

mailto:rita_wong@shaw.Ken Boon — 250.262.9014 mailto: pvla@xplornet.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theatres of Resistance

Dario Fo, the great Italian playwrite, director and actor, died a on October 13, 2016.  He was 90 years old. Fo was an agitator.  He was someone who fought and was sympathetic to others  who fought for the working class and the poor. Dario Fo worked with his partner, the Italian actress Franca Rama.

Even though I have  had limited opportunity to see Fo’s work, although I was on the Board of the Great Canadian Theatre Company, GCTC when Fo’s play Open Couple (titled for the GCTC production Open Marriage (Wide Open) was presented in the 1986/87 season I have always admired the personality of these two people who devoted the full force of their creativity to fighting for the liberation of working people.

So when I heard about Fo’s death  ( Franca Rama died in 2013 ) I started thinking about who Canada and in particular, Vancouver’s Dario Fo &Franca Rama would be.

Here they are right in my back yard.  Terry Hunter and Savannah Walling, founders and on going Executive and Artistic Directors respectively of the Vancouver Moving Theatre, home of Vancouver’s Heart of the City Festival

In the West Coast Canadian context, I can’t help but think of Terry and Savannah when I read about Dario Fo and Franca Rama. Both couples have built their relationship and their theatre practice over the last 30 years working in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver with ideas born there and in similar communities and with people who live and work there. Together they use theatre, music  and all forms of art to tell stories of the people and communities who make up the downtown east side  (DTES).

The DTES really is the heart of Vancouver–its historical centre.

The DTES forms part of the traditional territories of the SquamishTsleil-Waututh, and Musqueam First Nations.[8] European settlement of the area began in the mid-19th century, and most early buildings were destroyed in the Great Vancouver Fire of 1886.[9] Residents rebuilt their town at the edge of Burrard Inlet, between Cambie and Carrall Streets, a townsite that now forms Gastown and part of the DTES.[9] At the turn of the century, the DTES was the heart of the city, containing city hall, the courthouse, banks, the main shopping district, and the Carnegie Library.[9] Travellers connecting between Pacific steamships and the western terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway used its hundreds of hotels and rooming houses.[10] Large Japanese and Chinese communities settled in Japantown within the DTES, and in nearby Chinatown.[11] So, too was it a centre for Vancouver’s Jewish, Ukrainian and Russian Communities — citizens who were very involved in supporting the thousands of unemployed who fought the injustices brought on by the depression and its itinerant poverty and racism.

In 1942, the neighbourhood lost its entire ethnic Japanese population, estimated at 8,000 to 10,000, due to the Japanese-Canadian internment. Most did not return to the once-thriving Japantown community after the war.[14]

The stories of the historic communities of the DTES as well as more contemporary issues including poverty, gentrification, community, neighbourhoods and reconciliation are the focus of the the community-engaged art of Terry and Savannah and the Vancouver Moving Theatre (VMT)!  They definitely work in the spirit of Dario Fo & Franca Rana not to mention the many artists and activists from the communities with whom the VMT works everyday.

Let the Carnival resume

Here, as in a thesis I finished in 2003 for a Master’s in Communications at Simon Fraser University,  I am going to define “Carnival” as a mediation space where the everyday concerns of ordinary people, especially resistance to authority, can be expressed in a myriad of ways.

I guess we could say Canadians were displaying a little bit of that resistance when we booted Harper out of Office in 2015.  Unfortunately results have been topsy turvy!

Junior Trudeau, Canada’s replacement PM, describes himself as  a feminist and a friend of Canada’s Indigenous people and  expresses his great concern for the environmental future of our country.  But actions are stronger than words. More dams, more neoliberal trade agreements, more fracking and probably more oil pipelines.  Not to mention the denial of entry to Canada that activists from Europe, Africa, Palestine and other places have faced.

Among the scores of people denied entry to Canada during last summer’s International Social Forum held in Montreal was Aminata Traoré, Mali’s Minister of Culture.  Just the other day the Council of Canadians announced that José Bové, the french activist farmer and member of European Parliament was denied entry to Canada ostensibly for being arrested when he protested against both Macdonalds and the use of GMO’s in France in the late 1990’s. But in reality it was clear that his denial of entry was due to his opposition to  yet another trade agreement. That decision was overturned as a public brouhaha!  And that is what the carnival is all about.

The focus in this space will be the carnival of resistance.  I’ll be seeking out resistance stories from all over the world — the more creative the better! Stay tuned!