Anti-pipeline activists and observers gathered in Convocation Mall on the chilly morning of November 13 to voice concerns regarding the planned extension of the Kinder Morgan pipeline through Burnaby Mountain.
The rally, “SFU Says No to Pipelines,” was put on by the Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group (SFPIRG) and united a plethora of student and community groups in opposition of Kinder Morgan.
Running from 11:00 a.m. to 3:20 p.m., the rally had a full list of speakers who spoke to the crowd over the course of the afternoon.
Pipeline opposition groups set up information tables on the sidelines to answer questions, collect signatures, and provide some much-needed warmth in the form of hot chocolate by donation, with the money going toward paying the legal fees of activists charged in the current Kinder Morgan lawsuit.
Various SFU organizations had a presence at the rally, including Sustainable SFU, Divest SFU, the SFU Women’s Centre, Out on Campus, and the First Nations Student Society. Both the Graduate Student Society (GSS) and the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS), who have intervenor status, also spoke to the potential impacts of the project.
Devon Cass, external relations officer for the GSS, said, “Kinder Morgan’s actions have blatantly disrespected our democratic processes and civil rights.”
In his speech, representative Jonathan Catliff of Sustainable SFU expressed that, “[Sustainable SFU] is deeply concerned about the overall risk to our environment, our economy, and our campus community.”
He went on to say that the National Energy Board (NEB) — on which Sustainable SFU was a commenter — had chosen to ignore the environmental impacts when they approved surveys for the project.
Catliff also touched on the power of the community to collectively enact change: “It’s events like this, and it’s people like you, that give me hope that we can make these much needed changes.”
Representatives from the Indigenous community brought up issues regarding Burnaby Mountain’s status as unceded Coast Salish territory.
The Wild Flower Women of Turtle Island Drum Group performed several songs, interspersed within the speaker’s schedule, in tribute to those “standing in solidarity” against the pipeline expansion through unceded territory.
Other members of the Burnaby community were present as well, such as the Council of Canadians, the Wilderness Committee, and PIPE UP Network. Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion (BROKE) supported the rally and is currently facing legal charges from Kinder Morgan.
A speech given was by John Clarke, a Burnaby resident living near the Kinder Morgan tank farm, who took part in the establishment of Burnaby Mountain Park — the location of the two Kinder Morgan survey sites — in the 1970’s. Looking out on the crowd, he said, “I can tell you, if this had happened in the 1960’s [. . .] the convocation area would be absolutely filled with students.”
Four of the five defendants named in the injunction were present at the rally, including self-proclaimed Burnaby Mountain caretakers Adam Gold and Mia Nissen.
Two of the three SFU professors named in the injunction, Lynne Quarmby, SFU professor of biochemistry, and Stephen Collis, SFU professor of English, were closing speakers at the rally. SFU professor Alan Dutton did not attend.
Quarmby made an announcement to those present in Convocation Mall that she had just learned via text that the judge would announce a verdict tomorrow morning at 10:30 a.m, instead of November 17 as previously stated.
She encouraged people to head out to the sites on Burnaby Mountain to await the decision: “What we need is a large presence of support. There will be safe space where people can congregate as witnesses, as observers to see what happens.”
Quarmby continued, “If there is no injunction, there will be a pretty amazing celebration on Burnaby Mountain tomorrow at 10:30.”
Collis took the stage at the end of the event, asking ralliers to engage with him: “When I say ‘people,’ you say ‘power!’ People! (power!) People! (power).”
He added, “Whatever happens tomorrow morning, there’s still a long way to go.”
After the rally, attendees were invited to participate in a nature walk through Burnaby Mountain Park and the Kinder Morgan survey sites, as the sites may not be as freely accessible in the near future.