The Council of Canadians - Winnipeg Chapter


Along the Pipeline

Posted by Winnipeg Chapter on September 2, 2014 at 8:00 PM


Three months ago I hosted Robert and Adam on the Winnipeg stop of their Along the Pipeline project. They traveled the length of the pipeline route from Hardisty, Alberta to St.John, New Brunswick, stopping to speak with farmers, business people, activists, and anyone with a story to tell; using portraits and multimedia pieces to "put a human face on this pipeline proposal."



I've had the privilege of helping to transcribe some of the sixty hours of interviews with people along the route; hours that have given me a deep-seated sense of resistance as my understanding grows. Before listening to the interviews, I thought I knew what the pipeline meant for the land and for the people who live here. Moreover, I thought that there was more general awareness of some of the basics of the pipeline, but I clearly underestimated TransCanada's ability to keep secrets and strategically misinform.

Export Pipeline


Many of the people I listened to were shocked to discover that this is primarily an export pipeline intended to feed the global market for the direct benefit of the owning corporations rather than a pipeline to supply an “ethical” source of Canadian oil to the Maritimes.



In addition, I heard a sense that the "Canadianness" of the oil made it a preferable, patriotic choice that would benefit ordinary Canadians. The reality is that unlike Norway ’and its sovereign wealth fund  "which collects taxes from oil profits and invests the money," Canada has no such policy. Even Alberta, home of the oil sands, is piling up debt while Suncor and other oil sands companies (including Chinese government owned corporation PetroChina) continue to profit. (Report on Business article)



Around the world the oil sands have been characterized as a “filthy habit,” (Times of London) the "new dirty energy," (Boston Globe) and “The Biggest Environmental Crime in History” (The Independent). There is a growing upsurge of global resistance, and here in Canada groups across the country are organizing to stop pipelines and put an end to the oil sands.(Albert Reviews)



The Unist’ot’en Camp is a resistance community in BC built on unceded Wet'suwet'en territory “directly in the path of the proposed energy corridor across northern BC. As long as it stands, no pipelines can be built.” As they establish a quickly growing year-round stewardship of their traditional lands, they engage in educational outreach. Projects include teaching visitors traditional construction skills through the communal building of a pithouse that will serve as a permanent winter home for the main family of defenders, and the documentary film RESIST-The Unist’oten’s Call to the Land, by Simple Matters Films.



The Energy East Resistance Ride is a group of four youth cycling from Sydney, Nova Scotia, to Ottawa, Ontario. They are supporting and encouraging new pipeline resistance through community-building events, conversations with hosts, and their blog posts of photos and comments from people they’ve met along the way.


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Closer to home in Manitoba, No Energy East Aki is an indigenous/settler alliance of individuals and organizations (now expanded into two cooperative groups: Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition, focused on regulatory action, and a grassroots indigenous group focused on defending the land). No Energy East Aki emerged after the First Nations strategy session at Thunderbird House last March that brought together First Nations leaders from all along the Energy East pipeline corridor. This group is especially concerned with the threat to Winnipeg’s drinking water that will result from a spill where the pipeline passes close to Shoal Lake; and the adding-insult-to-injury threat to Shoal Lake 40 and 39 First Nations, already suffering greatly from the restrictions placed upon them by the hundred year expropriation of their lands.


What's Your Story?

Communities along the pipeline are waking up. A long-time resident of a small town in Northern Ontario followed the numbers and realized that the jobs promised by TransCanada would amount to no more than two or three permanent jobs in his area once the pipeline was finished. A fisherman looked at the possibility--the probability--of a tanker accident in the bay where he’d spent his childhood learning his trade, and he didn’t like what he saw. Retirees hoping to pass on to grandchildren pristine land in places like Lake of the Woods and the Ottawa River are becoming anxious, wondering if it will all be gone by the time another generation grows up.


There are so many ways to resist, and so many different stories inspiring people everywhere to stand up for clean energy, respect for the land, and recognition of indigenous rights. Along the Pipeline tells many of these stories, and truly demonstrates “the strength of individuals and communities, what they value and how this project will have far reaching implications.”


What’s your story? What inspires you to support--or even join--the frontlines as we work together to save the earth for future generations?


Contributor: Mary Robinson - Council of Canadians Winnipeg Chapter Chair

Categories: No Energy East Pipeline

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