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Pull Together 2.0: The People vs. Kinder Morgan

Both our federal and provincial governments have given the green light to Texas-based oil company Kinder Morgan to build a tarsands pipeline and increase oil tanker traffic on the BC coast by 700%.

Despite what Premier Clark says, BC is a long way off from having “world-leading” spill response capacity – on water or on land. Accidents happen and there’s no known technology to clean up toxic diluted bitumen.

Our elected representatives are standing up for Big Oil, so it is up to the rest of us to stand up for BC and defend our communities and our climate.

A number of First Nations along the pipeline and tankers route have already filed court challenges.

It was indigenous-led legal challenges that brought an end to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway proposal. First Nations can stop Kinder Morgan in the courts also. Let’s not stand by and watch them go it alone.

That’s why we’re relaunching Pull Together. In partnership with RAVEN Trust and the Force of Nature Alliance, we’re supporting the Tsleil-Waututh and Coldwater Nations who are in court to overturn the federal approval.

There are lots of ways you can help. During our last Pull Together campaign, there were smoothie sales and pub nights, dance performances and poetry readings. Over fifty musicians played at benefit concerts across the province.

Will you host a solidarity event in your community?

It doesn’t matter how big or small – whether you raise $100 or $1,000, your impact will be amplified by the contributions of others.

We can help get you started. Just fill out this form and we will be in touch to provide you with support.

When we pulled together to stop Enbridge, we were overwhelmed by your response. All across the province, people stepped up. People like you danced, marched, sang, paddled, stretched and ate together to support the First Nations fighting Enbridge in court. Together we raised over $600,000 for the legal costs, thanks to unprecedented solidarity between Indigenous leaders and thousands of Pull Together allies.

Not a penny of the money raised went to Sierra Club BC. This campaign is a risky one for us financially, however we feel so strongly that it’s the right thing to do that we are doing it again! We believe that standing in solidarity with First Nations requires the courage to take risks and step outside our comfort zone.

We hope you will join us. Your ongoing support is what lets us take this kind of risk. And your involvement in Pull Together is how together we will stop Kinder Morgan.

Pull Together is not just about raising money, it is about pulling together in the face of governments bent on forcing the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers on an unwilling province.

Photo by Michael Beach.

Pull Together is about building strong communities of resistance. Pull Together recognizes that when it comes to moving away from fossil fuel dependence, we are all in this together. With Trump pushing his fossil fuel agenda, it’s all the more important that we organize here in BC to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

By stopping Kinder Morgan, we can build the type of future we want in British Columbia—one that moves toward renewable, clean energy and green jobs. One in which our communities are safe from the threat of oil spills.

Together, we can do this. Ready, set, pull!

Victory: We stopped Enbridge for good!

By Caitlyn Vernon

November 30, 2016

Thanks to you and so many more like you all over the province, we did it!

After years of tireless, selfless struggle—organizing, marching, petitioning, writing submissions and speaking at NEB hearings, getting spied on by our own government’s security apparatus, raising funds for First Nations legal challenges, you name it—we finally got what we were so passionately demanding: the end of Enbridge.

This particular fight is finally over. For good. The Northern Gateway pipeline will not get built. Supertankers filled with diluted bitumen won’t sail through the Douglas Channel and threaten the jewel that is the Great Bear Rainforest. The risk of ecological and economic catastrophe that Enbridge posed has been avoided and we can all take a deep breath of relief. (Prime Minister Trudeau intends to legislate a tanker ban for the north coast. We will work to ensure the legislation is as strong as possible, so that we don’t have to fight any similar tanker proposals in the future.)

Our salmon—and the northern economy that depends on them—are now safer, as are the spirit bears, the humpback whales and all the delicate ecosystems of the north coast.

This, my friends, is a legendary achievement. Take time to celebrate, to savour the taste of victory. Don’t let the government’s reckless, irresponsible approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline and the Petronas fracked gas plant undermine this victory – tomorrow we will work to stop Kinder Morgan and Petronas, today we celebrate!

To every one of Sierra Club BC’s incredible supporters: thank you. To every one of you who contributed to Pull Together: thank you. To the communities along the pipeline and tanker route who led the way for so many years: thank you. To every one of our friends and allies: thank you.
And most especially, to every one of the First Nations who stood resolute and strong in the face of the wealth and might of corporate and government power: thank you.

In particular, I want to name the Heiltsuk, Gitga’at, Gitxaala, Haida, Kitasoo-Xai’xais, Nadleh Whut’en, and Nak’azdli Nations, whose court cases overturned the federal approval of Enbridge and whose precedent will push governments in the right direction for years to come.

It was a privilege to witness their courage and determination and to support them (along with RAVEN Trust) through the Pull Together initiative, which raised more than $600,000 for legal costs. Theirs was true leadership and their example has shown us a path to victory in the coming fight to stop Kinder Morgan.

I believe that when historians look back at the death of the Enbridge pipeline, they will come to see it as the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era in British Columbia.

There’s still much work to be done. Clearly, we have a federal government that doesn’t understand you can’t be a climate leader and build pipelines. Clearly, our provincial government, with its obsession with liquefied fracked gas, still doesn’t get it.

But this was a landmark moment, make no mistake.

History is on our side. The end of fossil fuels is inevitable. The only question is when we are not just celebrating the end of a pipeline, but the end of an era.

The Enbridge victory, above all, gives me hope. It shows the power of everyday people. It shows what we can achieve when we come together. It shows the path to the kind of future we all want: one powered by truly clean, renewable energy; one that respects nature and lives within her limits; one that respects indigenous governance; and one that makes sure no one is left behind by a post-carbon world.

Take some time to celebrate! Just look what we can do, when we stand together. I am filled with hope for what we will do next. We stopped one pipeline, we can stop another one.

Victory! Enbridge approval overturned by federal court

June 30, 2016

Eight First Nations are celebrating a momentous victory. More than a year and half after First Nations first went to court over Enbridge,  the federal government’s approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers project has been overturned by the Federal Court of Appeal.

On Thursday June 30th,  the federal court ruled that the government failed in its duty to consult First Nations. The judge found that the consultation process “left entire subjects of central interest to the affected First Nations, sometimes subjects affecting their subsistence and well-being, entirely ignored.” With today’s court ruling, the project has no approval and no permits, period. As Peter Lantin, President of the Council of Haida Nation, puts it, “I don’t think there’s room for another nail in the coffin.”

Sierra Club BC, together with RAVEN Trust, raised $600,000 for their legal challenges through the Pull Together campaign. The funds meant First Nations did not have to shoulder the financial burden of paying for critical research, preparing legal arguments, and court time — all investments which today are paying off, big time.

United Against Enbridge. Photo by Wayne Worden

United Against Enbridge.
Photo by Wayne Worden

The ruling means that the federal government can now reject the project outright. If they don’t, they need to undertake proper consultation with First Nations. This isn’t quite over yet. We are calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to do the right thing: reject this climate-polluting pipedream for once and for all.

We will be calling on the federal government to legislate a permanent, binding oil tanker ban for BC’s north coast —  the surest way to protect the Great Bear Rainforest from oil spills.

For today, though, we celebrate!

Thank you to everyone who participated in Pull Together for your work organizing, fundraising and taking a step towards reconciliation with Indigenous people across B.C. Today’s victory would not have been possible without your dedication of time, energy, and money.

It’s because of the committed struggle and creative ways that people all across the province stood in solidarity with First Nations, that this historic judgement has been reached. We’re so honoured to stand with all of you to defend our common future.

Please continue to support our work to stop tankers and pipelines in British Columbia by donating today.

Statement: Federal court overturns Enbridge approval

June 30, 2016

VICTORIA—Sierra Club BC released the following statement from campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon in response to the overturning of federal approval of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers project:

“Today is a good day for the B.C. coast, climate and salmon rivers. By overturning federal approval of Northern Gateway, the courts have put yet another nail in the coffin of this pipeline and tankers project.

“Enbridge’s project has no social license, no shipping agreements and thus no ability to meet its conditions of approval. It was facing the impossibility of navigating oil tankers around a tanker ban. With today’s court ruling, the project has no approval and no permits, period.

“Now the Trudeau government has the opportunity to do the right thing: reject this climate-polluting pipedream for once and for all, and legislate a permanent oil tanker ban for B.C.’s north coast.

“The First Nations who went to court to protect their lands, waters and indigenous rights were not standing alone. British Columbians from all across the province raised over $600,000 to support their legal challenges, through the Pull Together initiative led by Sierra Club BC and RAVEN Trust. We will continue to stand together to protect B.C.’s wild salmon economy from the risk of oil spills, until Prime Minister Trudeau legislates a permanent ban on oil tankers on the north coast.”

Contact:

Caitlyn Vernon

Campaigns Director, Sierra Club BC

250-896-3500

We did it! Pull Together Raised $600,000!

Amazing news, and a major milestone!

Today, the Pull Together campaign reached its fundraising goal of $600,000. Over 15 incredible months of solidarity, people like you have danced, marched, sang, paddled, stretched and eaten together to raise money for seven First Nations facing down Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers in the courts.

A huge thank you to so many Sierra Club BC supporters who organized events, donated, attended and spread the word, showing solidarity with the Nations and helping support their cases.

Today we celebrate Pull Together alongside the Haida, Heiltsuk, Nadleh-Whuten, Nak’adzli, Gitxaala, Gitga’at and Kitasoo- Xai’xais Nations who have taken a strong stance against Enbridge in court.

The solidarity that Pull Together inspired has helped provoke the new government to re-commit to formalizing a moratorium on oil tankers on the north coast, as one of its top priorities.

What a beautiful way to wrap up a momentous year!

Let’s be clear, though: our work isn’t over yet. Enbridge is still fighting to keep its pipedream alive.

While we await the judgement in the First Nations lawsuits that you have so generously supported, send a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau today, to let him know we look forward to seeing a permanent, legislated oil tanker ban passed into law at the earliest opportunity.

Please consider donating to Sierra Club BC today, so we can build upon what we’ve achieved with Pull Together! 

Pull Together infographic

Hundreds Rally Behind First Nations Against Enbridge

Over 500 people gathered on the steps of the Federal Court of Appeal in Vancouver on Thursday to rally in support of eight First Nations on their first day in court against the federal government.

Lawsuits launched by Haisla, Haida, Kitasoo Xai’xais, Heiltsuk, Nadleh Whut’en, Nak’azdli, Gitga’at and Gitxaala nations, assert that the federal government acted unconstitutionally when it approved the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines and oil tankers project.

The federal government has mismanaged the Enbridge file from the beginning,” said kil tlaats ‘gaa Peter Lantin, President of the Haida Nation in a press release from the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC). “We are in court to hold the federal government accountable to the highest law in Canada – the Constitution. We believe they are shirking their duties and responsibilities to First Nations in pursuit of corporate deals and board appointments.”

The rally was organized by UBCIC and the Yinka Dene Alliance and was attended by supporting nations, environmental groups and other allies who want to see the Enbridge pipeline stopped. Many supporters travelled hundreds of kilometres including a huge contingent from Haida Gwaii in particular.

“Today we’re fighting an unlawful environmental assessment and review process that failed to meet its constitutional obligations to First Nations,” said Chief Councillor, Arnold Clifton of the Gitga’at First Nation in the UBCIC press release. “Of the 209 conditions placed on Enbridge by the federal government, not one of them reflected our community’s concerns about the project. We owe it to our children to defend our rights and our way of life from the dangers of oil tanker traffic.”

Sierra Club BC, together with RAVEN trust has been fundraising for these legal challenges through the Pull Together campaign and supported the rally with online promotion, flyering and #UnitedAgainstEnbridge signs.

These judicial hearings challenge the flaws in the joint review panel process which did not constitute real consultation with First Nations,” says Sierra Club BC outreach coordinator Galen Armstrong. “It’s important to have strong environmental assesments that people can trust, in order that we can make decisions that make sense for our society. These hearings could push Canada back in this direction.

United Against Enbridge Collage

pull-together.ca: Is this what solidarity looks like?

By Caitlyn Vernon, originally published on Rabble.ca

One year ago, when the federal government approved the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers project despite the storm of opposition, a number of First Nations immediately went to court to protect their lands and waters, their cultures and communities.

I often hear from people who strive, as do I, to be an ally with these First Nations who have so much at risk. But what does it really mean, to be an ally?

The Pull Together initiative was launched by Sierra Club B.C. and RAVEN Trust as a tangible way that individuals, community groups and businesses can offer moral and financial support to these First Nations legal challenges. Over $390,000 has been raised so far, by online fundraising, businesses donating their profit margin, and community events held to raise awareness and raise funds.

Our goal is to raise a total of $600,000 by the summer, so the Heiltsuk, Kitasoo-Xai’xais, Gitga’at, Haida, Gitxaala, Nadleh Whut’en and Nak’azdli Nations have the resources they need before court hearings are held this fall.

Is this real solidarity? Perhaps only time will tell, and it is not for me to judge. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s this: it’s not up to me to decide if I’m being an ally or not.

What I do know is that court cases are extremely expensive and we all stand to benefit from the outcome. It doesn’t seem right that First Nations should be left to shoulder this burden alone.

At the root of it, solidarity is not just about standing with First Nations and supporting them to speak up or to organize — it also, and often, means standing behind.

In other words, it’s not enough to voice our support for First Nations, while remaining in our comfortable corners. Striving to be an ally requires us to make changes in our own lives as well. And yes, I dare say, it may mean giving something up.

Pull Together is an opportunity to donate, for those who can, and for others to give their time and energy, to fundraise online or organize community events that take us one step further along the journey of reconciliation.

One thing is certain. It’s not possible to be an ally without stepping outside our comfort zone. The good news is that finding the courage to do so can be incredibly rewarding, in surprising ways.

I invite you to join Pull Together for the Week to End Enbridge, June 13-21. We are marking the one year anniversary of the federal decision to approve the Northern Gateway pipeline with a groundswell of support for the First Nation legal challenges that seek to overturn that decision. Every day, more communities, individuals and local businesses are coming on board.

In the last month alone, community events in support of Pull Together have included an art auction and beer tasting in Terrace, a seafood festival and community dance on Haida Gwaii, a climate change cabaret in Nanaimo, and music concerts in Victoria and Vancouver. Who knew stopping a pipeline could be so fun?!

Denman Island Chocolate’s Pull Together chocolate bars are being sold in over 70 storesacross B.C., Uprising Breads Bakery is donating proceeds, Moksha Yoga has raised $13,000 through yoga classes and film nights, and Kitasoo-owned Spirit Bear Lodge will donate 100 per cent of two vacation packages in the Great Bear Rainforest — a chance to see spirit bears and help stop oil tankers.

There is no question that stopping pipelines and learning to be an ally are serious business. What Pull Together is making clear is that we can celebrate community, build relationships and have some fun along the way.

Caitlyn Vernon, Sierra Club BC’s Campaigns Director, lives on unceded Coast Salish territory. To support the First Nations legal challenges against Enbridge, go to www.pull-together.ca.