Burnaby Mountain Post-Protest

Just in case you missed it.
By Kier-Christer Junos
[contributing editor]

Many days of protests and arrests ended with mass celebration on Burnaby Mountain. Over 100 people enjoyed live music, heard speeches and stood together on the weekend of Nov. 29 to 30, where people lauded the previous weeks’ efforts to resist Kinder Morgan—the energy company that test-drilled to gauge the feasibility of running a pipeline through the mountain.

“We told them not to go onto the mountain, we told them to obey our bylaws,” said Burnaby mayor Derek Corrigan to Global News. “We were overruled by the National Energy Board.”

Celebrations took place in the snowy field in front of Horizon Restaurant, the establishment at Burnaby Mountain Park that laidoff staff as a result of the injunction that protected Kinder Morgan’s work from protesters—the injunction essentially kept customer-traffic out.

On the Sunday celebration day, people held up signs with words like “What’s an economy without eco? A bad Kinder surprise;” speeches filled the brisk air with empowering words and bannock with jam and butter was served at a table.

Father Hainsworth, a priest, walked onstage in a woolly grey sweater over a long tan robe and addressed the crowd: “I want to acknowledge, like everyone else has acknowledged, that we’re standing on unceded territory,” says Hainsworth, into a microphone, his voice echoing loudly in the vast space. “And I’d also like to acknowledge being present with you here on this day. Because on this day, we’re celebrating a victory.” He speaks louder. “We are having a celebration—we don’t get many of those! So let’s make this one count!” The crowd smiled, applauded and yelled back.

From several First Nations bands to the City of Burnaby – many people are against pipeline expansion. People around Canada showed solidarity with Burnaby Mountain protesters by sharing their demonstration efforts on social media. Though First Nations bands often spearhead efforts for environmental protection, media coverage showed that many different groups of people came to protest against Kinder Morgan. Students, professors, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers and even children protested. Also, across these demographics, many people volunteered their arrest, the youngest being an 11-year-old, and the oldest almost an octogenarian. Notably, David Suzuki also showed up to speak to protesters. Tamo Campos, Suzuki’s grandson, was arrested.

“The people that wanted to protect the conservation area up on Burnaby Mountain inhibited the work of the contractors for Kinder Morgan to continue their work,” says Sto:lo elder Eddie Gardner, who makes a note of supporting and closely following these kinds of initiatives. He spoke to supporters during the weekend celebrations and also led drumming and song.

“With the intensification of the land defenders who went up there to stop Kinder Morgan from degrading the conservation area up there, Kinder Morgan went to court and successfully got an injunction on the protestors,” adds Gardner. “And the injunction meant that it would be enforced by law, and the police would intervene, and ensure and protect the workers of Kinder Morgan to do their drilling.”

In the early days of the protest, media coverage showed animosity between police and protester fronts. Later, the injunction zone on a weekday—days after it was enacted—the situation was calm, though people were still being arrested. The theme at this point in the story was dozens of planned, voluntary protests. Protesters, for example, would make testimonies through a loudspeaker on their reasoning for crossing the police tape. Then they would cross the tape without police confrontation; in fact, the police would often lift the tape up and help people under. Protesters would then have to sign papers binding their appearances in court.

On the Thursday before the celebration weekend, Kinder Morgan appealed to the Supreme Court for an extension on their injunction from Dec. 1 to 12. That same day, protesters literally locked their necks against the courthouse door-handles at the Vancouver court buildings on Smithe Street. Kinder Morgan, much to the happiness of protesters, were denied the extension and were forced to pack up their drilling equipment and leave the site.

Also, it was later found that the injunction zone, which Kinder Morgan was initially granted, was improperly marked because of a GPS mishandling; the police line was essentially at the wrong place. Subsequently, the arrestees once bound to appear in court were released from their obligations. And these victories ultimately prompted the celebrations.

Nonetheless, Kinder Morgan was able to obtain enough information to present to the National Energy Board.

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