AN OPEN LETTER TO MINISTER QUALTROUGH (2 B EDITED)

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We are writing letters to all MPs in cabinet, and you can read one below. Time is limited. There are rumours the decision on the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tanker project will be made this week. If you would like to take action right now, please contact your MP here:

Dear Minister Qualtrough;

My name is Charlene Aleck and I am writing to you with a heavy heart. You see my people, the Tsleil-Waututh, are the people of Burarrd Inlet in Vancouver. As such, we have a strong connection with the Orcas and other marine life that share our inlet and like us, have been here since time immemorial. We have a sacred responsibility to be the stewards of the land and water that has always provided for us. 

I find myself watching and listening to a lot pipeline and tanker safety commercials lately on the TV and the radio and the point that they always emphasis is how safe the new Kinder Morgan pipeline will be; how very, very careful they will be not to spill a drop. And I am sure that the company would not want to have a spill and also would not want to destroy the climate with their product; but every time I hear these commercials, it makes me think about the Mayor of West Vancouver. He was telling the story of working for Exxon as a young man and told the audience what all about Exxon’s mandate: safety, safety, safety. It was job one! He paused for a second when he was telling the story as if remembering the moment, and then he said, “And we all saw how that turned out…”

Accidents happen and they devastate communities. No matter how careful you are. And as for the climate – this is the dirtiest oil on the planet, more intensive than almost anything that is burnt. How can we be careful with that?

If the Government of Canada really does pride itself on evidence-based decision-making then the nature of what is in that pipeline must be considered when you make your decision. It is not just a pleasant sounding resource. It will carry diluted bitumen: commonly called dilbit. And unlike most conventional oils that float on water, dilbit sinks beneath the surface and settles on the bottom. Submerged, it is significantly harder to clean up than floating. And the stuff that doesn’t sink to the bottom, the dil or diluents in dilbit, that’s the stuff that floats up into the air. I sometimes wake up at night imagining the carcinogenic cloud drifting across the lower mainland. It makes it hard for me to sleep at night. I am wondering if this is something that worries you as well?

I also think about the giant tank farm that they are building right beside a University in the middle of a major city…the Fire Chief says that if one tank were to catch on fire…they all would, creating an explosion that could easily kill thousands.

I just cannot understand how this could seem like a good idea.

As a spokesperson for the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative I am reaching out to MP’s who might be able to help us in this important work. It would bring great hardship to the people of this coast if anything further were to happen to the already stressed fish stock here, but more than that, it would bring about an end to our way of life. 

Orca whales are an integral part of our spiritual and cultural connection to the earth and our heritage. Scientists and marine biologists that study our inlet have confirmed our fears that the approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline project would also constitute the approval of the extinction of the Orcas and potentially many other species. If you have not already, I urge you to read for yourself the evidence we have gathered from extensive study. We are a small nation and it is not generally our way to seek out conflict. We are business friendly community focused on working collaboratively with others to lift everyone up. We are joined in these concerns by many local mayors throughout the region. 

What is especially distressing to me is that we believed the election of this government would usher in a new era in meaningful dialogue that would lead to equality and a genuine relationship between us. You cannot only listen to First Nations when you agree with what they are saying. Long lasting solutions to complex problems cannot be achieved when one of the sides has all of the power. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. put it, “Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic.” 

You have vowed to renew efforts towards reconciliation. How can this be done while simultaneously ignoring First Nations communities who demand the rejection of the Kinder Morgan pipeline?

Are you aware that 16 First Nations communities along the pipeline route are actively opposing the project? There is an unbroken wall of opposition to the project. There is no route to the coast that doesn’t go through communities that are strongly opposed.

Why not take a step back, look toward alternative ideas and find ways we can work together to create a sustainable future for our children?

It is unclear to us how this decision is even being made. Perhaps at some level that is the saddest part of all. There has been so much talk of a new era of openness and accountability in government and yet we do not even know how MP’s are voting or if they even have a voice in issues like this one. Is this decision going to be made behind closed doors? What happened to the idea of not whipping votes on important issues? 

Will you support this project Minister Qualtrough? Or will you stand with us? We do this work not just for our families but for everyone. This is about doing what is right and protecting the coast that we love. We still have hope that we can find a way to work together towards these vitally important goals.. 

 
Thank you,

hay čxʷ q̓ə siʔem̓

Charlene Aleck

Ts’simtelot

Sacred Trust Initiative of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation

 

 

Remember, you can still take action. Please ask your MP to say ‘No’ to Kinder Morgan here:

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