7 arrested as faith leaders protest Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in Burnaby

April 28, 2018
By Chad Pawson  
CBC News

Leaders from a broad spectrum of religious faiths stood with Indigenous people at a Kinder Morgan work site in Burnaby, B.C., on Saturday to protest the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Unitarians, two choirs, members of 10 Christian denominations, and interfaith groups all participated by singing and chanting but also fixing prayers, rosaries and flags to the gates of Kinder Morgan's site at Shellmont Street and Underhill Avenue.

Amal Rana placed a quote from the Prophet Mohammad on the gates.

"Environmental justice is a huge part of the Islamic faith, actually all our faiths," she said. "We are here to stand with Indigenous people and also for the earth ... that is part of our spirituality."

Seven people were arrested by Burnaby RCMP officers for breaching a court-ordered injunction that prevents people from obstructing or impeding access to Kinder Morgan facilities in Burnaby.

The groups said they were against the expansion because of concerns it could cause environmental damage, and that there was not enough meaningful consultation done with Indigenous stakeholders.

Bat-Ami Hensen, a member of Metro Vancouver's Jewish Community said it was important to stand with people from other faiths in opposition to the project.

"We have common values," she said of all the groups gathered on Saturday.

Others like independent Christian Reverend Dr. Vivian Marie says the event was also to show a commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous people.

"Our faith demands that as well as care of the earth," she also said.

Laurel Dykstra, a priest with the Anglican Church of Canada, says religious leaders are putting prayers into action by being willing to be arrested.

"People of faith are standing in solidarity with Indigenous people to say this pipeline will not be built," she said.

Meanwhile, parts of a protest camp set up in Burnaby appeared to have been vandalized with spray paint saying, "protesters not welcome," and "go home."

Burnaby RCMP have not yet confirmed if it received complaints about the spray paint or if they are investigating.

The Trans Mountain project received federal approval in November of 2016. The National Energy Board (NEB) concluded that the project is in Canada's public interest and it could proceed with 157 conditions.

Since then, legal challenges and political wrangling have stalled the expansion, which would increase the amount of oil or products being transported from Edmonton to Burnaby from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day.

On Friday, the B.C. government asked the B.C. Court of Appeal if it has the jurisdiction to bring in stricter rules for companies to ferry more heavy oil — like diluted bitumen — through the province.

This week Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna wrote an open letter to B.C.'s environment minister proposing the creation of a joint scientific panel to study oil spills and response measures.

Trans Mountain says it has prepared extensive plans to help emergency responders react faster, and more effectively, in limiting potential impacts of a spill.