Published in Windspeaker | September 27, 2012 | Circulation: 145,000
As the flotilla of ocean-going Coast Salish canoes broached the rapids under Vancouver’s iconic Lion’s Gate Bridge Sept. 2, police boats followed with sirens flashing and officers keenly observing. To the north, hundreds of people gathered on a Tsleil-Waututh Nation beach to welcome the convoy.
But instead of heading straight to the waiting beach crowd, the armada of nine 20-person Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish nation vessels turned south–bearing drummers and traditional regalia–and joined kayaks, fishing boats and even one-man, paddle-boarders as it approached the Kinder Morgan oil refinery in Burnaby, B.C.
The day’s two-hour paddle–undertaken from West Vancouver to Deep Cove–had significance both cultural and political. As Kinder Morgan proposes to more-than-double its Trans-Mountain oil sands pipeline from Alberta, and expand an oil supertanker port in Burrard Inlet, First Nations and environmentalists on the coast are escalating their opposition to the project.
The paddle journey culminated in the two nations’ chiefs signing a declaration to protect the Salish Sea.