"Would you put your life on the line?" Twenty-year-old Tsleil-Waututh youth leader Cedar George asked Green party MLA Sonia Furstenau, who met with Indigenous activists protesting the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion on Burnaby Mountain on Monday.
"I would put my life on the line to protect my sister, to protect my god-sons and god-daughters, the same I way I would put my life on the line to protect this earth," he told Furstenau, during their meeting inside the Indigenous watch house built just outside a Kinder Morgan work site.
"This earth is alive, and is embedded with my ancestors. I would do anything to protect it against this pipeline," Cedar George pledged defiantly in the close-quarters of the Watch House. #bcpoli #indigenousrights #kindermorgan
"This earth is alive, and is embedded with my ancestors. I would do anything to protect it against this pipeline (expansion)," he said. "Will you go back to the legislature and tell them that you will too?"
The project he vows to stop is the federally approved Trans Mountain expansion, which intends to double the number of oil tanks on Burnaby Mountain from 13 to 26, and to nearly triple the barrels of oil per day (bpd) from 300,000 to 890,000. Recently, National Observer broke the story on how government insiders believe the federal approval process was rigged in Kinder Morgan's favour, while the government was still consulting with Indigenous leaders.
The Green party Members of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia were scheduled to visit the Watch House on Burnaby Mountain April 30th. Due to poor weather, Furstenau was the only representative present. She took a tour of the protest camp, the grounds of the Watch House, and was blessed with prayer, and songs by Tsleil-Waututh youth leaders Kayah and Cedar George. The two siblings shared impassioned stories, and asked Furstenau to take their message back to the provincial government.
"How would you feel being 19, or 21 years old growing up in this world, where we should be kids, but instead we choose to fight?" said Cedar George, referencing his sister's and his own age respectively.
"If you can say anything, can you represent the youth? Can you represent the Indigenous people? Can you represent the young ones that we promised to protect? That's all I ask." Furstenau nodded in agreement.
He said he and his sister were willing to go to Victoria directly to speak if needed.
Furstenau expressed her commitment to honour Cedar and Kayah's requests.
"The rootedness in what really matters is so well conveyed by Cedar and Kayah," Furstenau said. "Their reasons for standing up for this coast are all the right reasons."
"There's so much to be learned that's more than just a fight against a pipeline. This learning is so important for everything moving forward, we have to re-set our relationship," she said after the meeting.
Before departing Burnaby Mountain, Furstenau said she would bring Cedar and Kayah George to join the Green MLAs in the Legislative Assembly of B.C this May to share their sentiments about the pipeline expansion and its impact.