Totem pole protests pipeline
One of the protest totem poles. (SUBMITTED)
A group from the Tsleil-Waututh Nation is helping bring the second of two healing totem poles that mark both ends of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline.
The first pole was erected last year in Tsleil-Waututh territory at the terminus of the oil pipeline that brings bitumen from northern Alberta to tankers in Burrard Inlet.
A second pole is now on a journey from the carvers in Lummi, Washington to the Beaver Lake Cree at the other end of the pipeline, with many destinations in between, including Metro Vancouver.
“It started as a gift to us to honour the exercising of our indigenous rights to protect our lands and waters from the destruction that Kinder Morgan is doing not only doing to Tsleil-Waututh territory but also the Salish Sea,” said Rueben George, project manager with Sacred Trust, the branch of the nation that opposes the pipeline.
At a celebration to erect the first pole, the carvers heard stories told by First Nations people living near the oilsands and felt their next healing pole should be to honour their struggles against them at the other end of the pipeline.
They settled on the Beaver Lake Cree, who were one of the first aboriginal groups to come out against further oilsands development.
The new pole tells the story of healing that pulls the two First Nations with different cultures and histories that are brought together in opposition of the pipeline.
“They could have negotiated with the builders of the tarsands to bring their people out of poverty, but what we have in that brought us through that decision is the cultural and spiritual teachings,” said George.
The totem pole will arrive in Vancouver on Aug. 31 and will be on display at Crab Park all day at the Nighthawk Festival.
From there, the pole will join the Lummi and Tsleil-Waututh family members at a celebration on Sept. 1 before continuing on.