TMX Construction Resumes Amidst Pandemic

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On the one year anniversary of the release of the Report on the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Canada has given the green light for construction to resume on the TMX pipeline. This is a government that is spending $10 billion – or more – of your tax dollars for an export pipeline and tankers project that has no proven market overseas. 

One key recommendation in the MMIWG report was to put an end to the practice of installing “man camps” for remote industry adjacent to Indigenous communities. In spite of that call-to-action – and in the midst of the COVID19 pandemic – man camps have kept operating in B.C.  

The First Nations that are still in court fighting the Trans Mountain  project have some tough options ahead, but they are not giving up. Tsleil Waututh, Squamish and Coldwater Nations are crafting an appeal to the February Federal Court of Appeal decision that found the hasty, piecemeal second set of consultations “adequate”. 

“We took this issue to the Supreme Court of Canada not only to stand up for our inherent and constitutionally protected rights, but also to make sure that Canada follows their own laws when making decisions,” says Tsleil-Waututh Chief Leah Sisi-ya-ama George-Wilson. “Our opposition remains unchanged. This isn’t over by a long shot.”

While caring for their communities, hit hard by COVID-19, Indigenous Peoples are working double-time to uphold the law in this country. Their ongoing resistance to TMX provides a template for how we must respond when our tax dollars are spent on anything but a just recovery from the pandemic and shutdown. This is not a time to empower the same industries who have brought our world to the brink of climate catastrophe. 

Imagine what we could accomplish if we used this moment to re-build the country according to principles grounded in sustainability, human rights and justice. The clean energy projects of T’Souke, Tsilhqot’in and Beaver Lake Cree Nations are forging a path forward. Instead of giving woefully inadequate compensation  for turning Nations’ territories into sacrifice zones, the government should be investing in commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement, UNDRIP, and in true reconciliation. That includes a just recovery where investments in  innovative, green social development projects take place in Indigenous communities across the country.

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