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Totem pole traveling long way to protest pipelines

Last Updated Aug 23, 2016 at 11:27 pm PST

Lasia Kretzel

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — As the federal government wraps up its panel meetings to get feedback on the Kinder Morgan pipeline review, First Nations communities are ramping up another effort to protest the project by carrying a totem pole 5,000 kilometres.

Totem pole to protest Kinder Morgan pipeline Totem pole to protest Kinder Morgan pipeline

The 5,000 Mile Totem Pole Journey began in Vancouver on Tuesday and will travel through parts of the United States and Canada before finding a home in Winnipeg. The totem was carved by the House of Tears Carvers Lummi Nation outside Bellingham, Washington.

“It’s a good stand in solidarity,” Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative manager Rueben George says, criticizing the government’s panel discussions. “I joke that it’s not consultation. We have a 1,200 page document that the government has to talk to use about and a 40 minutes presentation to the National Energy Board (NEB) doesn’t cut it.”

Panel consultations wrap up in Victoria this week, and the panelists will complete a report on their findings in November with a final decision expected by the end of the year.

George says the federal government’s review process is a “sham” and they expect Ottawa to push the pipeline through.

Kinder Morgan wants to triple the capacity of itsTrans Mountain pipeline that currently transports
300,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta to Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet and Washington. NEB recommended the government approve the project but has since been sent back for further review.

Supporters argue the pipeline is vital to Canada’s economy and as long as the nation continues to import oil from countries with questionable human rights and environmental records, it should approve any project that increases domestic supply.

Tsleil-Waututh Nation is among 17 First Nations who oppose the project because of potential consequences a spill would have on the environment and economy. The First Nation is suing the federal government over allegations Ottawa and NEP failed to fully consult the band before setting the terms of the review.