Indigenous Watch House guardian Will George called for a pause in blockades and a "week of ceremony" after 172 people were arrested over the past week blockading Kinder Morgan's pipeline terminal in Burnaby B.C.. George made the announcement on Saturday when 57 people were arrested in a single day blocking the gates to the Texas-based company's tank farm.
"We will have a week of spiritual ceremony," George told a crowd gathered near the Indigenous Watch House built to monitor pipeline construction. "We will be here every day in ceremony with the elders and matriarchs. You are all welcome and invited to come."
Blockades led by First Nations leaders will be paused for the week while the ceremony is underway. George said that blockades will resume the week of April 2. Spokespeople have not announced which Indigenous leaders will be gathering in Burnaby. The mass protest kicking off the blockades on March 10 attracted emissaries from across North America including representatives of Innu, Mohawk, Haida, and Standing Rock Sioux communities, among others.
On Monday, the Federal Court of Appeal refused to hear the B.C. government's bid to overturn a National Energy Board ruling allowing Kinder Morgan to bypass Burnaby bylaws during pipeline construction. Other court challenges are still pending. The project has been approved by the federal cabinet, but is currently under judicial review by the Federal Court of Appeal. Six local First Nations as well as the cities of Vancouver, Burnaby, and the Province of British Columbia have challenged the project in court, while proponents for the pipeline include the Province of Alberta and the federal government.
Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion would increase the capacity of the pipeline threefold, allowing it to carry 890,000 barrels per day from Alberta to an expanded tanker terminal on British Columbia's coast. Supporters say this will fuel growth in the oil industry, create thousands of jobs and millions in new tax revenue, while opponents say it would put the coastline at risk with a a seven-fold increase in oil tankers traffic and push Canada's climate change goals out of reach.
Saturday's arrests bring the total to 172 since Kinder Morgan was granted a court injunction establishing a no-go zone around the oil tanker terminal and tank farms. Green Party leader Elizabeth May and NDP MP Kennedy Stewart were arrested on March 23.
Editor's note: This article was updated at 4:31 p.m. ET to include the decision by the federal Court of Appeal.