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‘Kayaktivist’ training offered for pipeline protest

By Eric MacKenzie

Activists form a kayak flotilla to surround an oil drilling rig near Seattle last year. A similar protest targeting Kinder Morgan is being organized for May 14. 
Getty Images

Activists form a kayak flotilla to surround an oil drilling rig near Seattle last year. A similar protest targeting Kinder Morgan is being organized for May 14. Getty Images

Protestors will be taking to the water next week in opposition to Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline — and organizers are willing to train people to take part in their “kayaktivist” event.

Greenpeace Canada and 350.org are planning to surround Kinder Morgan’s Westridge terminal in Burnaby with kayaks on May 14 — a few days before the National Energy Board submits its final recommendation to the federal government.

“What we’re demonstrating is that maybe one kayak is, at most, a nuisance. But when you can put that scale of people on the water in small boats, it’s actually a powerful way to show that we could potentially be blocking their ability to move tar sands in and out of the Burrard Inlet,” said Cameron Fenton of 350.org.

“We think the image of dozens, if not well over 100 boats, getting out in the water in protest is something that really hasn’t been seen on that scale here, so it’ll draw attention.”

In order to participate, organizers are requiring people to go through mandatory training in advance. The first sessions are happening Saturday at Jericho Beach. No kayaking experience is necessary, said Fenton, and protestors will learn “non-violent naval tactics.” More training is scheduled for May 13 at Cates Park.

Asked if organizers are anticipating an encounter with law enforcement officials on the day of the protest, Fenton said they’re “not sure.”

“We’re training people to be ready for it, but we don’t expect a negative reaction given the history of these kinds of actions in the city,” he said.

The event is part of a worldwide, two-week campaign called Break Free from Fossil Fuels. Activists have already disrupted coal mining activity in the U.K. and Philippines, while other flotilla protests are planned for Australia and the U.S., said Fenton.

“It’s basically showing that we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground to meet the kind of climate obligations that governments like Canada agreed to in Paris,” said Fenton.