The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project was granted approval by the Government of Canada on November 29, 2016. The project proposal underwent a 29-month review process with the National Energy Board (NEB) – a process that is now being challenged in the courts for failing to adequately consult with Indigenous Peoples.
The federal government’s position on this pipeline expansion has profound implications for reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Canada, as it violates the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Several First Nations along the pipeline route have not consented to having the pipeline run through their territories and are challenging the NEB review process arguing that it failed to respect Indigenous title, and violated Indigenous rights, including the right to free, prior and informed consent.
The federal government’s position contradicts the Prime Minister’s promise to work towards “a renewed nation to nation relationship with Indigenous peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.”
The project will endanger Indigenous peoples and their territories. The Kinder Morgan expansion project will increase tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet from 60 to 408 vessels a year, significantly increasing the risk of oil spills. Unlike other oil, the bitumen from the tar sands is mixed with a diluent to make it transportable by pipeline to the coast. This diluted bitumen (or ‘dilbit’) is heavier than conventional crude and can sink to the bottom of the ocean and mix with sediments, making clean up significantly more challenging. The increased tanker traffic threatens First Nations and other communities’ access to cultural, spiritual and economic resources.
The unintended impacts of resource development projects are disproportionately born by Indigenous communities, particularly indigenous women and girls. A 2016 study by Amnesty International found that threats to the safety of Indigenous women and girls are more acute in regions where there is intensive resource development with temporary workforces. The influx of industry workers in temporary accommodations, or “man-camps,” has been associated with an increase in incidents of sexual harassment and violence against Indigenous women and girls from nearby communities. There is a serious risk that the construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will increase violence against Indigenous women and girls in the region.
Furthermore, the pipeline expansion severely undermines Canada’s commitments to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Climate Agreement. The new pipeline will increase the capacity of the existing pipeline, built in 1954, from 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day to 890,000 barrels per day. The upstream GHG emissions could be between 21 and 26 megatonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 eq) per year, an increase in 15 Mt CO2 eq from its current operation.
- Respond to the call from Coast Salish peoples to stand with them in defense of lands and waters. Follow Protect the Inlet to learn about upcoming actions. Consider visiting or supporting the Watch House (“Kwekwecnewtxw”) on Burnaby Mountain.
- Can’t make it to Burnaby Mountain? Consider hosting a solidarity vigil or public action in your community.
- Donate to Pull Together and support First Nations’ legal challenges to stop the project
- Support the work of Salal + Cedar, a ministry of the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster, who are present on the ground and have been organizing people of faith and making connections between faith groups, Indigenous, grassroots and environmental organizations
- Read the KAIROS Briefing Paper: Fossil fuel projects at odds with actions on climate and Indigenous rights
- Read the KAIROS response to the approval the Trans Mountain expansion from November 2016
- Learn about the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion. Nearly 150 First Nations and Tribes from across Turtle Island have signed on to this continent-wide treaty, committed to work together to stop all proposed tar sands pipeline, tanker and rail projects in their respective territorial lands and waters
- Learn more about KAIROS’ position on the Tar Sands. Read Drawing a Line in the Sand: Why Canada needs to limit tar sands expansion and invest in a green economy
Declarations and Statements
KAIROS is honoured to have been invited by members of Tsleil-Waututh to stand with them and alongside other faith leaders and people of faith in defence of the lands, waters, and climate we all share. KAIROS released this statement on April 25, 2018 to affirm our support of First Nations peoples and our opposition to this project.