Demonstrators against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion cleared out peacefully Monday afternoon after causing a “logjam of trucks” outside the Burnaby Mountain tank farm.
Burnaby RCMP said they received a call at around 2 p.m. to an Indigenous youth-led protest at the entrance to the tank farm. There, officers found a car with its wheels removed blocking traffic at Underhill Avenue and Shellmont Street.
In a video posted to social media, Indigenous land defenders were seen drumming and singing next to and on top of the car, which had “#STOPTMX” spray painted on its side.
Opponents of the pipeline have long cited two main issues with the project – that it defies Indigenous right and title and that it is not sustainable in the fight against climate change.
On the former, several Indigenous communities – including the Squamish and Tsleil Waututh nations in the Lower Mainland – filed since-dismissed lawsuits intended to block the pipeline. In an earlier Federal Court of Appeals ruling, a panel of justices determined the federal government had failed in its duty to consult Indigenous Peoples on the project.
However, the federal government has since revisited its consultations, and the same court determined the government’s consultations were adequate. Indigenous groups say the ruling goes against the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which calls for governments to have “free, prior and informed consent” to develop on Indigenous territories.
Both the B.C. and federal governments have said they intend to commit themselves to the declaration, commonly referred to as UNDRIP.
Indigenous activists say they don’t recognize colonial institutions’ authority – particularly in B.C., where the country sits largely on unceded First Nations territories, where most nations have not signed treaties with the government.
Burnaby RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Mike Kalanj said officers approached the demonstrators, who said they did not want to be arrested and cleared out. Kalanj said the car was towed away by around 4 p.m., clearing the way for what had become a “logjam” of trucks that run up and down Underhill Avenue to and from the tank farm.