Media Release: Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative: Statement on Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion’s Commencement

səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Territory/North Vancouver, B.C.

Our grandmother the Inlet, Tsleil-Waut, has sustained our people for millennia, and we have been working tirelessly and successfully to restore her health. Today marks a critical day for Tsleil-Waututh Nation. Trans Mountain has announced that their expanded pipeline is operational, a project our Nation has not consented to due to the many risks it poses. Tsleil-Waututh holds a sacred, legal obligation to steward the lands and waters of our territory so that future generations of Tsleil-Waututh people can thrive. While we recognize that we are in a new phase of Trans Mountain operations, our stewardship obligations do not change.

Today, we pause to recognize all that we have accomplished and endured along this journey. The risks that we assessed as too great now move from hypothetical to real risks to our community, our culture, and the lands, water, and air that we all rely on. These risks include the fact that oil spills are inevitable, they are impossible to fully clean up, and they will cause catastrophic ecological impacts in səlilwət (Burrard Inlet) and the Salish Sea. We have worked hard over the generations to restore the health of Burrard Inlet. The Trans Mountain pipeline threatens the incredible advancements we have made to bring the ecosystem back.

We think of the orcas, the salmon, the herring, and other marine species that call Burrard Inlet home. They will now face a massive increase in tanker traffic, and with it, the risk of a devastating oil spill. Even without a spill, the increased tanker traffic brings air, noise, and water pollution, and shoreline erosion.

We also pause to note our accomplishments that many believed were impossible. We released a groundbreaking independent Indigenous-led impact assessment, using world-leading science grounded in our own unextinguished Tsleil-Waututh law. The assessment was one of the first of its kind and is now studied worldwide.

We met with Kinder Morgan and their largest investors until they realized that this project did not make sense economically and they withdrew from the project.

We won at the Federal Court of Appeal, when the courts found Canada did not adequately consult Tsleil-Waututh or address our concerns, which stopped the project for years and changed Canadian law in the process.

We met many new friends, families, and allies along the way; people who understand and accept our role and sacred duty to steward and protect our homelands. Our nation is recognized worldwide for our leadership.

Today, however, does not mark the end of Tsleil-Waututh’s journey. Tsleil-Waututh’s stewardship obligations remain, regardless of the status of the project. We have been here for a long time, and we will be here for a long time. Our laws go back a long way and remain in place, reminding us of our responsibilities to the Inlet. We have endured many challenges and harms from the actions of the Canadian government, but we are still here, in good faith, as hosts in our homelands. Tsleil-Waututh will continue to uphold our sacred duty to protect the Inlet, and ensure future generations of Tsleil-Waututh people will thrive.

About the Sacred Trust Initiative

The Sacred Trust is an initiative of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation (TWN). Its mandate is to advance TWN’s governance, stewardship, and Aboriginal rights in TWN’s territory, including to protect the Nation from the risks that the Trans Mountain Pipeline poses. The Sacred Trust Initiative is grounded in TWN’s culture, spirituality, and law.  TWN has a sacred, legal obligation to protect, defend, and steward the water, land, air, and resources in their territory. To learn more about the Sacred Trust Initiative, visit

About səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh)

Tsleil-Waututh Nation is a First Nation whose territory centres around Burrard Inlet in the greater Vancouver region. Tsleil-Waututh have a Sacred Trust, a responsibility, to care for and restore traditional territory to its former state. Today, Tsleil-Waututh is more than 600 people strong and growing. The community draws on knowledge from ancestors to remedy past wrongs, reclaim territory and traditions, and advance into a bright future. For more information on the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, visit

Media contacts:

Tsleil-Waututh Nation Communications


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