We Draw the Line: Why the Tsleil-Waututh Nation is raising a totem pole in our territories
On September 29, 2013, the Tsleil-Waututh Nation will welcome a powerful totem pole to ourÂ territories, the gift of our Salish relatives, the Lummi people. The Lummi Nationâ€™s House of TearsÂ Carvers have created a tradition of carving and delivering totem poles to areas struck by disaster orÂ otherwise in need of hope, healing and protection. With this in mind, Master carver Jewell James hasÂ focused on the Salish Sea, the sacred landscape of both our nations. This gift unites the Tsleil-WaututhÂ Nation with the Lummi Nation and all nations and allies who are opposed to new proposals to ship fossilÂ fuels through the Salish Sea that would threaten sacred sites, the health of human populations and theÂ integrity of marine ecosystems. The totem pole, which has journeyed along the coal train route fromÂ Montana through Washington State, will be raised in Tsleil-Waututh territories, looking across theÂ Burrard Inlet to the holding tanks at Westridge Terminal site where Kinder Morgan loads crude oil andÂ bitumen from the Trans Mountain pipeline onto tankers.
Kinder Morgan is proposing to build a new Trans Mountain pipeline roughly parallel to the existingÂ pipeline built in 1953 from Albertaâ€™s tar sands to the Lower Mainland. A new pipeline would triple theÂ amount of bitumen shipped through the traditional territories of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, includingÂ the waters of the Burrard Inlet and the Salish Sea, from the current 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000.Â Tanker traffic â€“ and with it, the risk of a catastrophic spill — would increase dramatically, with one orÂ more supertankers per day loading at Westridge Terminal in Burnaby and transiting throughÂ Vancouverâ€™s harbour.
Tsleil-Waututh, the people of the Inlet, have always relied on the bounty of the local waters and shores,Â which historically supplied us with a secure source of food. We have said â€œnoâ€ to a new pipelineÂ because of our experience with the old pipeline and the degradation of the Inlet. The existing pipelineÂ has had four major leaks since Kinder Morgan took over pipeline operations in 2005 and two leaks in theÂ past six months. The 2007 rupture of the pipeline in a Burnaby neighborhood spilled almost 250,000Â litres (1500 barrels) of crude oil; enough flowed into Burrard Inlet to mark the shore on the other side.Â A spill in Burrard Inlet or the Salish Sea could result in more than $10 billion in economic costs alone andÂ could never be fully cleaned up or remediated. The environmental effects of such a catastrophe wouldÂ be irreversible.
Tsleil-Waututh Nation has voiced strong public opposition to a second Kinder Morgan pipeline. Tsleil-Waututh has established the Sacred Trust Initiative with the goal of stopping the Kinder Morgan TransÂ Mountain pipeline project. On September 1, 2012, Tsleil-Waututh and the Squamish Nation signed aÂ historic declaration committing our two nations to jointly opposing Kinder Morganâ€™s plans for a newÂ pipeline.
The Lummi Nation is fighting a proposal to build North Americaâ€™s largest coal port on their traditionalÂ territory, in an area of that encompasses burial grounds. Construction of a terminal at Cherry PointÂ (which the Lummi call Xweâ€™chiâ€™eXen) in Washington State would result in significant interference withÂ Lummi treaty rights and irreversible and irretrievable damage to Lummi spiritual values. The LummiÂ Nation is concerned not only about the destruction of their sacred sites, but also about the deteriorationÂ in air quality and contamination of water and soil as a result of fugitive coal dust dispersal. Shipping ofÂ coal could also have devastating impacts on fishing and fishing rights along the Washington coast. As aÂ result, in 2012 the Lummi Nation adopted a formal position opposing the proposed project. As LummiÂ Councilman Jay Julius, in opposing the proposed coal port, has said, Kwel hoyâ€™: â€œWe draw the line.â€ The
name Kwel hoyâ€™ has also been given to the sacred totem pole.
The combined transits of ships carrying coal and supertankers loaded with bitumen through the sameÂ narrow transits of the Salish Sea make an oil spill virtually inevitable. Concerned groups on both sides ofÂ the border are supporting and applauding the efforts of the Tsleil-Waututh and Lummi Nations toÂ protect the Salish Sea and prevent it from being turned into a fossil fuel corridor.
For more information:
About Tsleil-Waututh Nation and the Sacred Trust Initiative:
About the totem pole and its journey: