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Thousands gather in Vancouver for anti-pipeline rally on day of action

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – It was a day of action across the country Sunday against proposed pipeline projects here in BC with a decision on Enbridge‘s proposed pipeline looming. In Vancouver, the biggest rally was at Sunset Beach in the West End, where thousands came out to tell Ottawa not to approve the Northern Gateway project.

“We’re not protesters, we’re protectors,” declared First Nation groups speaking at the event. Carleen Thomas with the Tsleil- Waututh Nation says the pipeline approval process is undemocratic, and doesn’t listen to the people. Like many in attendance, she has a message for Prime Minister Stephen Harper leading up to the decision: “Stop thinking about greed. Start thinking about protecting and building Canada. Building these pipelines is not the way to do it because we all know we’re going to benefit in a very small way from it, but we all take the risk in terms of whatever environmental impact it’s going to have on our lands, our waters and our air.”

Sven Biggs with ForestEthics says British Columbians he’s talked to can’t believe the Harper Government is even considering the pipeline given there’s overwhelming public opposition. “A lot of British Columbians and in fact Canadians are going to be very angry about that decision. I think you’re going to see a number of groups go the legal route and file lawsuits against the pipeline.”

People at the protest confirmed his belief, saying if legal action isn’t taken by First Nations and environmental groups, they will take matters into their own hands. “If it gets built I am going to be tying my self to a tree,” says Juliana, a student attending the rally. Sophie, another student, adds “we’re from such a beautiful city it really breaks my heart this is even being considered.”

University students came from across the country to attend the Vancouver rally according to Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students Zachary Crispin. He says they’re hoping to deliver the message that oil is an old economy, “it’s a dying economy… we want government and our institutions to focus on training, and retraining people to work in an economy of alternative fuel sources.”

Meanwhile, ForestEthiks has already filed a constitutional challenge against the National Energy Board approval process over the proposed Kinder Morgan expansion. “We’re challenging the changes the Harper Government made to the NEB act to make it harder to participate in the process and have their voices heard. Under the charter of rights we believe this is a free speech violation,” says Biggs.

The Harper Government is expected to release their decision in June on the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline set to transport diluted bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands to Kitimat.