One of the coordinators of a pipeline protest near the Port of Vancouver is speaking out after four individuals were arrested by Vancouver Police.
Today, Extinction Rebellion--a grassroots movement that uses nonviolent action to drive systemic change in the face of the climate crisis--blocked access to the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge to demonstrate their opposition to the Trans Mountain Expansion Pipeline.
The protesters gathered at Callister Park in East Vancouver at noon and made their way to the intersection of McGill and Commissioner Streets
#XRVan will also announce plans for its spring campaign as part of an afternoon of community building activities.— Extinction Rebellion Vancouver (@XRVancouverBC) January 29, 2021
Nonviolent civil-disobedience action, organized by Extinction Rebellion Vancouver, aims to pressure the Trudeau govt to cancel the #TMX Expansion Pipeline#cdnmedia pic.twitter.com/KUpMqlxxvZ
Just before 1:30 p.m., Vancouver Police warned drivers to avoid the area due to congestion. Shortly thereafter, four protesters were arrested "for mischief after refusing to clear an intersection," explained Cst. Tania Visintin via email to Vancouver Is Awesome.
"They received multiple requests and warnings," added Visintin.
"We have permission from the host nation, Tsleil-waututh to conduct these actions."
Maayan Kreitzman, a volunteer coordinator in Vancouver with Extinction Rebellion, told V.I.A. in a phone interview that the people who were arrested were peacefully demonstrating on Unceded Coast Salish Territories, and that they have the right to be there.
"We have permission from the host nation, Tsleil-waututh to conduct these actions," she said. "And we are a completely peaceful movement. There is no violence."
Kreitzman added that police moved into the area almost immediately after the demonstrators gathered, which she feels is an aggressive escalation. She said it demonstrates that they wanted to shut the peaceful demonstration as soon as possible to carry on with "business as usual" at the port.
Extinction Rebellion chose the Port of Vancouver because it is one of the largest ports in North America and it is a key player in the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.
The project is opposed by the Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Coldwater Indian Band, who were recently denied leave to appeal by the Supreme Court of Canada. It also conflicts with Canada's commitment under the Paris Climate Agreement to keep global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degree Celsius.
“With this action, we’re telling the truth about the government’s grievous failure to reduce GHGs, and failure to act as if the science on this impending climate catastrophe is real,” said Janice Oakley, another volunteer with Extinction Rebellion.
“We are calling for mass mobilization among everyday people and an urgent call to action by the government to do what is morally required for the survival of life on Earth as we know and love it. Indigenous communities have been naming these issues for decades, and we settlers are mostly late to the table on recognizing our ways of life are fundamentally interconnected with the wellness and presence of clean air, water, foods, and whole ecosystems. We need to have the courage to look at the truth. To listen to the science. And we need the government to help us turn this around. Are we up for the challenge to be courageous?”
Vancouver Police say the protesters who were arrested will be released on conditions pending their court date.