Victory: Squamish Nation celebrates after court ruling halts pipeline
Coast Salish leaders are celebrating a Federal Court of Appeal ruling that quashed Canada’s approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline project.
The court’s ruling made on Aug 30 states that Canada failed to adequately consult with First Nations affected by the pipeline expansion.
It also states that a review by the National Energy Board was flawed and didn’t consider the project’s impact on the marine environment.
The decision means that construction can’t proceed until the court’s conditions are met.
Squamish was one of several First Nations involved in the court action, and hosted a victory celebration on Sept 15.
Squamish Coun. Khelsilem said the ruling shows how strong people can be when they work together.
“We decided, let’s hold a victory march. Let’s celebrate this huge victory for all of us,” he said. “I’m proud to say that every single one of my colleagues are of the same heart and mind when it comes to protecting our inlet, defending our communities.”
During the celebration, dozens of people from Squamish and other nations, as well as supporters, marched from the waterfront in North Vancouver to Squamish’s Capilano reserve, cheering and singing.
Afterwards, people shared speeches and guests enjoyed live music.
Squamish Council co-chairperson Deborah Baker acknowledged youth from the nation who came out to celebrate, and also recognized member Clarissa Antone and her family, who have been tirelessly fighting Trans Mountain.
Antone carried a photo of a figure of a figure that her brother Mike carved and established on Burnaby Mountain several years ago.
“We had no idea a few years ago what this was all going to come to, and here we are today with this victory,” Baker said. “This is so important to our people, of course, and to all people who could be impacted by any devastation. Thankfully the court listened, the judges listened, the rest of Canada I hope will embrace this as well.”
Khelsilem said everyone needs to continue to work together on protecting their territory.
“It’s important to emphasize that we have won a huge victory with this federal court of appeal decision but the fight is not over,” Khelsilem said. “I think we all understand the risks to this project but unfortunately some people in Ottawa don’t, so we need to remain together.”
Canada’s finance minister Bill Morneau has pledged to move forward with the purchase of the project while meeting the court’s conditions, saying it’s in the national interest.
Chief Maureen Thomas of Tsleil-Waututh, another nation involved in the court action, spoke about the victory at a press conference after the court’s decision came down Aug 30.
Thomas said she recalls standing across from Burrard Inlet three years ago after the nation decided to fight Canada in the courts because Trans Mountain expansion was approved.
“And (now) the court came back in a favourable decision for us and we all have to step back and think what does this really mean for Canada,” she said. “We’re here to protect what we need to protect for our future generations, and that is the bottom line.”