We’re thrilled to announced that $100, 000 has been raised by communities from Washington state. The solidarity is incredible. We are all Salish Sea people.
Want to learn more about the phenomenal activism and community outreach being carried out by allies in Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands, Bellingham, and Seattle? Pull Together organizer Mary Lovell shared these stories of hope and resilience:
Kinder Morgan has hit a storm they weren’t expecting in the Pacific Northwest, and from where I am sitting-prospects aren’t looking pretty for the 890,000 barrels of tar sands oil the pipeline company would like to ship to the coast. The Pacific Northwest is rising up against the tar sands pipeline that puts their coastline and climate at risk.
The oil pipeline company has been in rough seas the past few weeks, with a BC election resulting in plummeting shares, a last ditch effort to fund the 7.4 billion dollar pipeline- meanwhile the resistance to the projects have been named as investment risks to the company. As resistance continues to grow, the company’s project is looking shakier than ever.
Vanessa Castle, of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, grew up just six feet above sea level looking out into the beautiful Strait of Juan de Fuca she and her mother were fisherman together since she was little, and her brother still fishes in their fishing grounds that have sustained them for tens of thousands of years. Kinder Morgan puts what she holds dear at risk.
Vanessa took me on a walk along her coast line, looking deep into the fog-recounting all the hundreds of times that her brother and mother had to fight to retrieve fishing gear from the shipping lanes- how scary it can be in the fog to be trying to retrieve crab traps when facing huge barges in the fog.
“I can’t imagine my community without being able to fish” she said quietly as we walked along the beautiful shores of the Straits discussing the sevenfold increase of tanker traffic proposed.”
The Lower Elwha have agreed not to fish salmon from the Elwha River for years as the Elwha river returns to a healthy state and salmon return to spawn for the first time in generations after a 2011 dam removals, so the waters of the Salish Sea is a main source of food and culture for her family and friends.
Her family and community rely upon the health of this coast, and on the stability of the climate. Climate change could have a very real and lasting impact on her community who will have to seek higher ground if sea levels rise and storms continue to intensify, as the tides rise and fall- and her mother’s home is only a few feet above sea level.
Vanessa is one of thousands concerned in the Pacific Northwest who have come together to fight the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Her fundraising page for Coldwater Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nation’s legal challenges against the pipeline has already raised nearly two thousand dollars. When we were talking about the pipeline, she said ”This is in my front yard. I would do anything to stop it.” She is not alone. Hundreds in the Pacific Northwest have been standing with the nations fighting this project.
In Seattle, Sierra Club and 350Seattle got together to set a Pull Together fundraising target of 50k. Events have been happening in the San Juan Islands, Skagit, Whatcom, and Snohomish counties as Washingtonians recognize the stake the entire region has in this fight. There was a kick off at the local Elks lodge with representatives from up and down the coast present, a pub event called “Brewing Resistance,” and a panel discussion, a trivia night, and a bike ride in the works.
Angela Jefferson, a cultural leader and young female canoe skipper singer and dancer from the Lummi Nation responded when asked why she is working against Kinder Morgan in her community.
“Protection of the Salish Sea has been embedded into my very being since I was 7 years old. I have fished the rivers, learned to navigate the bays, was taught to defend my hereditary rights.”
“From the beginning of time we as Native people are taught that we are connected by the things that nourish our spiritual being and the main nourishment is our waterways. When you threaten our waterways you threaten the life line of native people.”
Individuals and nations from around the world and throughout the Pacific Northwest are standing together to fight this massive tar sands pipeline.
What Justin Trudeau and the Texas based Kinder Morgan might not have been expecting is how organizers from this region are uniting, and supporting one another in this fight for climate justice and First Nations sovereignty. To date, the Pull Together campaign fundraising for Coldwater Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh have raised over three hundred thousand dollars, demonstrating popular support for lawsuits defending these nations right to consultation on their territory.
Courageous indigenous women leading the fight against extractive industry in the Pacific Northwest inspires me to continue in this fight to defend the climate and this coast. These waters and these communities are unique and beautiful, and we need to fight with everything we have and work together across borders and with creativity and passion.
When Justin Trudeau visited Seattle last June, he was greeted by dozens of protestors including Vanessa opposing the tar sands expansion in their waters, and a campaign has begun to demand state representatives come out to the canadian government in their opposition.
And organizers in Seattle shut down a TD Ameritrade branch in order to protest the continued investment support that TD has given Kinder Morgan, as the company scrambles to find investment for the project.
The prime minister of Canada states that he will work to support the Kinder Morgan pipeline, and ensure it gets built, despite the project running roughshod over constitutional rights, and indigenous rights and title. The lawsuits Pull Together is working to uplift and fund, are about consent and consultation, because these nations have every right to free prior and informed consent to what happens on their territory.
The prime minister when elected claimed that he would work on building nation to nation relationships with First Nations, and move forward in implementing the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People. However, the Liberal government has failed to demonstrate commitment to rebuilding those relationships, and in unceded British Columbia, he is continuing to build major risky oil pipelines without the nations’ consent. Which is why organizers from all over the world are standing with these nations. Indigenous people everywhere deserve access to clean air, clean water, and deserve the right to decide what happens in their territory.
This pipeline it affects strong communities along the whole west coast by increasing tanker traffic sevenfold. It impacts our collective climate. Our collective interest is to continue fighting as hard we can to ensure that the beauty of this coast, our livable climate, and these communities are protected.
Our solidarity and connection with each other is beyond borders on a map, as a spill will not stop at the border- and the climate crisis affects us all. Join us. Pull Together. Together we can stop this pipeline.