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Indigenous Leaders Ceremony as Trans Mountain Prepares to Begin Drilling Under the Fraser River

Coquitlam/Fraser – On Saturday, as Trans Mountain updated construction information to media including Popkum and Hope staging areas and the twinning of the pipeline under the Fraser River, Indigenous Leaders held a rally.

Leaders and elders held a ceremony to pray for the safety of the salmon, ecosystems and cultural heritage threatened by Trans Mountain’s plans to drill under the Fraser River.

According to Trans Mountain’s latest construction update filed with the regulator, drilling is scheduled to begin A 4-foot diameter borehole will be drilled under the river at the Port Mann Bridge, emerging on the north side into Colony Farm, a Metro Vancouver regional park.

Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Executive Board member of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and one of the matriarchs who held the ceremony, made the following statement:

“Just as we gathered to protect our hummingbirds last month from Trans Mountain, we are coming together in ceremony to protect our Fraser waterways and the wild salmon. Our water ceremony today spoke to the river called Stó:lō in Halq’eméylem, also called Lhtakoh by the Dakelh up north.

This federal pipeline will be forced underneath the river by a 4-foot wide industrial drill, then filled with bitumen diluted by petrochemicals. Any leak or spill at any time would be devastating to wild salmon, already stressed to the brink by climate change and years of systemic DFO mismanagement. Just as water is life, wild salmon is also life for our Nations and the bedrock of the coastal ecosystem. Indigenous peoples derive vital social, cultural, and economic benefits from Wild salmon, and enjoy the constitutionally protected right to fish for food, social, and ceremonial purposes.

Mark Point, chief of the Skowkale First Nation, one of the communities of the Stó:lō Nation added:”Stó:lō are ‘the river people’. This waterway and the life it sustains are at the heart of our culture, and threats to the river’s health and to our fishing grounds are threats to the wellbeing of our people. Our ceremony today is part of our sacred responsibility to ourselves, our ancestors and our descendants to defend these lands and waters.”

A blowout during construction, or an oil spill during operation, would have catastrophic consequences for the Fraser and its iconic salmon population.

Photo’s Courtesy Donna Clark

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