Prominent faith leaders were arrested today at the gates of Kinder Morgan’s Westridge Marine Terminal, for fulfilling what they called a “moral obligation” to stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples and their rights to free, prior and informed consent.
Reverend Vivian Seegers, a deacon in the Anglican Church and Sundancer from Fort Chipewyan in Alberta, has seen first-hand the impacts of tar sands expansion on her community. “All the water runs downstream from the oil sands into Lake Athabasca,” she said at the Kinder Morgan gates. “All the moose, the caribou, the fish, the lichen: all of that is destroyed by all of the toxins downstream. It’s not safe to eat our traditional foods anymore. The only food that is available is from down south, that’s flown up. It’s a very desperate situation.”
Last week Coast Salish spiritual leaders issued a call from the Watch House for people of faith to take action in solidarity with them.
“I’m here to stand in solidarity with the Indigenous people of this land and across the pipeline route, who have not given consent to this pipeline and whose essential rights to free, prior and full consent have not been honoured,” said Reverend Ron Berezan, an Anglican deacon from Powell River. “This is a disaster in the making for our climate. The time for transition is now. We don’t have another 30 years to talk about it. I have a moral obligation to stand and think of future generations. It’s not about profits today, it’s about how we keep this beautiful, blessed planet as a liveable planet for all of our descendents.”
“We need to embrace the essence of our teachings and come together in this very pivotal moment,” added Rev. Berezan. “Now is the time to stand up and speak for what our traditions teach us about protecting all life, and about honouring the First Peoples of this country.”
Almost 200 people have been arrested so far in the past month, as part of escalating Indigenous-led opposition to Kinder Morgan’s pipeline project.
“Reconciliation is a meaningless word without justice and Indigenous self-determination at its centre,” said National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald. “What is sought here is the simple acceptance and enactment of the basic human rights of Indigenous Peoples, as stated so clearly in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We come to support, pray, and act with them.”