Thousands of people gathered on Saturday to show their opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, in what some are saying is the biggest protest yet.
Environmental groups, Indigenous activists, and local residents gathered in Burnaby, a small town in British Columbia.
The expansion, which was approved by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau two years ago would double the current Trans Mountain pipeline, which is owned and operated by Kinder Morgan and currently stretches from the coast of British Columbia to the Alberta tar sands, a distance of about 1,150 km.
The expansion will increase the pipeline’s ability to produce 300,000 barrels of oil per day, to almost 900,000 barrels of oil per day.
The expansion has faced opposition from many of Trudeau’s own supporters, upset that he went back on his campaign promise of not expanding any more pipelines.
Although many people have been unhappy with the expansion, the indigenous communities have been particularly vocal. One of the organizers of the Saturday’s protest, Ta’ah Amy George, who is a Tsleil Waututh elder said “Our ancestors protected this inlet and this little piece of land that we got left with. They protected it for us … We’re thinking of our [next] generations: my children and grandchildren and I have great-grandchildren.”
Kinder Morgan released a statement about the protest.
“We support the right to peacefully and lawfully express opinions and views about our project and we understand that not everyone supports the expansion. We’re confident we can build and operate this project in a way that respects the values and priorities of Canadians and in respect of the environment.”
The federal government has not wavered on its support for the Trans Mountain expansion.
“Approval of the Trans Mountain Expansion was based on facts, evidence and what was in the national interest. Throughout the construction and operation of this project, Indigenous voices will be heard. Their counsel will be sought and their knowledge valued,” said a representative for Natural Resources Canada.