*This story has been updated.
At least one person was arrest Thursday afternoon after dozen “faith-based pipeline opponents” attempted to block Trans Mountain construction in Burnaby through a prayer circle.
The cutting of more than 1,300 trees is now underway near the Brunette River as part of clearing work for the project.
The protesters arrived at the site at around 6 a.m. to “block any further work,” said a news release.
“The action brings together practitioners of Unitarian, Christian and Buddhist traditions,” said the news release. “Some practitioners say they will not move if RCMP asks them to, and are prepared to risk arrest.”
A court injunction bars people from blocking work on the pipeline at various sites in Burnaby.
“As a person of faith, I am mindful of the moral imperative to think seven generations into the future,” said Ruth Walmsley, a participant in the prayer circle, and a founding member of Burnaby Residents Opposing KinderMorgan Expansion (BROKE), in the news release. “We are called to leave a world that will continue to support life as we know it, for present and future generations. I have pursued many different avenues to express my opposition but at this point, with construction of the TMX proceeding, I feel I have no option left other than non-violent civil disobedience. I am just one person, but I know that I am part of a much larger tide, and I believe that tide is turning. Enough is enough. Too much has already been lost. Let us see what love can do.”
On Tuesday, an Indigenous man was sentenced to 90 days in jail for a protest at the Burnaby Mountain tank farm in the fall of 2019. Stacy Gallagher was handed the sentence in B.C. Supreme Court.
The group Coast Protectors say the sentence violates the spirit of changes announced in January by the BC Prosecution Service regarding Indigenous people in the criminal justice system.
“It recognizes that custodial sentences, particularly those under two years in duration, should be seen as a last resort,” reads a Jan. 15, 2021 media statement by the BC Prosecution Service.
The Coast Protectors say Gallagher should not have received a jail sentence under this recommendation.
“The Crown ignored this new directive and continued to seek 90 days imprisonment for Gallagher’s peaceful prayer, smudging, singing and dancing for Mother Earth in ceremony at the TMX Burnaby tank farm,” says a news release.
The 90-day sentence was cited as a main reason why Indigenous youth in the group Braided Warriors blocked the Vancouver intersection of Hastings and Clark starting on Tuesday night. Vancouver police cleared the intersection this morning.