People Power Stops Pipelines!
A love letter to the movement that defeated Trans Mountain
The Mosquito Fleet is overjoyed by the recent news of Trans Mountain’s defeat in the Canadian courts. We’re both honored and humbled to have played a part in the international resistance movement that brought this pipeline to a halt, and our hearts are full of gratitude for our many wonderful allies who lent their bravery, creativity and strength to this work. We are especially heartened by the ruling specifically citing the impact of tanker traffic in the Salish Sea, an issue close to our hearts and central to our work – which was completely overlooked in the original assessment of the project. Most of all, we’re grateful for the unwavering courage and resilience of the Indigenous communities who led this fight every step of the way. We owe a special shout out to protectors from the Tsleil-Waututh and Secwepemc nations who consistently challenged our movement to, “Warrior up!”, reminding us that the fight for climate justice is also a fight for human rights, Indigenous sovereignty and community self-determination.
Resistance on all fronts is a winning strategy
While the final nail in the coffin may have come through the decision of a federal judge, we know this victory is the culmination of years of sustained popular resistance on all fronts.
From the very beginning, this pipeline represented a blatant violation of human rights, as well as a direct threat to the health of local communities and the stability of our global climate. Throughout the region and beyond, countless people responded to this threat by dedicating their time and energy into organizing, and by putting their bodies on the line in bold acts of civil disobedience. From prayerful water ceremonies, mass mobilization in the streets and tanker blockades on the coast, to tiny house occupations in the interior, this movement grew broader and bolder everyday, eventually spreading across the colonial border into affected communities in the US. Just as orcas and oil spills know no borders, neither did our resistance! Eventually, this cascade of escalating action sent Kinder Morgan running for the hills, desperate for a bailout. The significance of the company’s decision to offload the project can hardly be overstated. Even with the green light from a cheerleading federal government, sustained popular resistance turned what was once a profitable venture with eager investors into a toxic asset which threatened to ruin Kinder Morgan’s financial reputation. Only then did Trudeau offer to bail them out with billions of Canadian tax dollars, in an act of desperation.
The power of movements
The judge’s final decision to overturn federal approval represents a major victory not only for the lawyers representing First Nations, but for the movement as a whole. While those in power would like us to believe that the courts are insulated from public opinion, we know from historic struggles like the civil rights movement that social movements have always shaped the way governments interpret their own laws. Just as our movement transformed the political context in which the BC government had to act, and the economic context in which Kinder Morgan had to act, our movement shaped the context in which a federal court decision would have to be made (and defended). People power stopped this pipeline, and it is people power that will stop the next one.
Onward in solidarity
Even as we celebrate, we know that this is one victory in an ongoing struggle. Our world and its inhabitants continue to suffer from the ongoing disasters of climate change, capitalism and systemic oppression. We know there is much work to be done, but it’s moments like this that give us hope. Together we can build a movement strong enough to win a future free of fossil fuels, where communities decide their own fate and power is in the hands of the people. We look forward to playing our part.
Onward in solidarity,
– The Mosquito Fleet