“I was convicted yesterday.”
Andrew Larigakis smiled as he offered this statement as a way of introduction to retired Burnaby teacher-librarian Susan Lambert, who had just been arrested Saturday afternoon at the gates of the Burnaby Mountain Kinder Morgan tank farm.
Lambert smiled back and shook the hand of Larigakis, a Vancouver architect who was arrested at the same spot back in March.
Lambert had just been released by the police on a charge of violating a court injunction and Larigakis came over because he wanted her to know that what she was doing was important.
Lambert is no stranger to being in the spotlight. She is the former president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and has faced large throngs of media, as well as tense standoffs with provincial governments.
She’s fierce, to be sure, but I can imagine what an overwhelming and emotional experience Saturday must have been for her.
When the protesters – including Order of Canada recipient Jean Swanson – sat down in front of the gates, they were approached by police who played a recorded message about the injunction.
When they didn’t move, they were arrested in front of hundreds of people, including a woman burning sage next to them.
As the crowd softly sang the words, “You are not alone,” Lambert was taken away down a dark, tree-covered path to a table set up under a tent. I watched from the road as she sat down, surrounded by at least 10 police officers.
“You are definitely outnumbered,” she told me after she was released.
Apart from all the police and the chanting crowd, there is the spectre of possibly going to jail for violating the injunction. Lambert could be sentenced to seven days in jail.
“Of course it gave me pause,” Lambert said when I asked if she thought twice about violating the injunction. But Lambert is a grandmother and she said she owes a “debt” to her grandchildren to ensure our generation doesn’t continue to destroy the environment.
To her, expanding the Trans Mountain pipeline will do that.
“The situation is so critical, we have to take action,” Lambert said. She actually said this a couple of times, each time with more ferocity.
Then she looked at me, smiled, and said she needed to go.
Meanwhile, the crowd continue to sing as a guy referred to as “Rich” (he wouldn’t give me his name) egged them on with a megaphone. He was a maestro with that megaphone. As vehicles drove by the site, protesters in reflective vests guided the traffic and made sure people stayed off the road.
Then suddenly, another group of five people stepped forward and sat down in chairs, ready to be arrested. A few of the more than 30 police officers on hand (seems a little bit overkill for such a peaceful crowd, but that’s a topic for another day) walked up and played the recorded message before taking them away, one by one.
Expect this to continue all summer long.
Chris Campbell is the editor of the Burnaby Now. Follow him on Twitter @shinebox44