First Nation pipeline protesters erect ‘tiny homes’ in B.C. Park

Kanahus Manuel and Tiny House Warriors say more homes being constructed in park

Members of the Secwepemc Nation have taken over a provincial park, erecting tiny houses in protest against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The North Thompson River Provincial Park near Clearwater was host to an Indigenous cultural tattooing ceremony this past weekend, closing it down to campers from July 6 to 9, according to the Ministry of Environment.

However, some event participants have remained on site, saying they are occupying the park in protest against the contentious pipeline expansion project.

Kanahus Manuel, an activist who participated in events like the Dakota Access Pipeline protests at Standing Rock, is onsite at the provincial park and said in a statement that three tiny houses have been placed inside, with more being constructed.

“Justin Trudeau has left us no choice. This pipeline violates our rights and endangers our lands and waters. To stop it, we’re reclaiming our ancestral village and bringing our traditions back to life,” she said in a statement Wednesday.

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion was bought by the federal government last month from Texas-based company Kinder Morgan.

The expansion is set to increase the transport of bitumen to nearly 900,000 barrels of crude oil per day, running more than 1,100 kilometres from Edmonton, Alta., to Burnaby.

The tiny houses, one of which is visible at the entrance of the park, are part a project by the Tiny House Warriors. Additional tiny houses are being constructed on the site, Manuel said.

Led by Manuel, the Tiny House Warriors have a mission to stop the pipeline from crossing what it calls unceded Secwepemc territory, according to its website.

“If Trudeau wants to build this pipeline, he will need to empty this village a second time; in doing so, he would make continued colonization and cultural genocide part of his legacy of so-called reconciliation,” she said.

In a statement Tuesday, Manuel said some of the pipeline goes through Secwepemc land.

Manuel said Secwepemc people should have the right to practise their ceremonies on what they feel is their own land and to be able to do so in peace.

“This is what reconciliation looks like; for this past weekend we’ve had this security gate and checkpoint here at the [park’s entrance] to really protect our ceremony, because we’ve had a bunch of racist Clearwater residents, settlers, and people from the surrounding area … that came to force their way into our ceremonies,” she said.

“This is really important to us because we need to be able to create our own safe spaces to have our ceremonies for traditional tattoos and taking back our ceremonies to mark our bodies with our ancestors’ marks.”

Secwepemc doesn’t have right to assert land titles of park, Chief says

According to a map provided by Secwepemc members, the group’s land stretches from north of Valemount to south of Kamloops and includes Clearwater as well as the provincial park.

But in a statement Friday, Chief of Simpcw First Nation Shelly Loring disputed these claims.

“Only Simpcw has the authority to assert title and rights to the parklands,” she said in a news release. “As an independent advocacy group, the Secwepemc Land Defenders do not have any authority to claim rights to our lands, in fact, in our view, the Secwepemc Land Defenders ought to have obtained Simpcw’s consent to hold the event on our lands.”

Chief Loring said she and the Simpcw band council also wanted to make the distinction between Simpcw First Nation, the Secwepemc Nation and the Secwepemc Land Defenders, clear.

“Traditionally, the Secwepemc collectively protected the territories of the Shuswap; however, each Secwepemc Nation was, and is, separate and independent, with its own territory boundaries within the larger Secwepemculecw,” she said.

Clearwater Times attempted to attend the protest inside the provincial park Tuesday but was denied access by organizers, who said an Indigenous ceremony was underway.

READ MORE: Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs concerned about pipeline ‘man camps’

READ MORE: Pipeline protesters block tankers by hanging off Ironworkers Memorial Bridge

Mike McKenzie, one of the Secwepemc members who was standing at the entrance, said that Loring’s claims are debatable.

McKenzie argued Loring doesn’t speak for his group, nor does she have the right to speak for the area the park encompasses.

“Shelly Loring does not hold title to the collective Secwepemc Nation and what she is telling people is that only her people, and her federally-implemented community, are allowed to speak for this area and that’s wrong; the collective title and jurisdiction is of the entire Secwepemc Nation for all Secwepemc people—she has no right to tell us we’re not allowed to be here,” McKenzie said.

The ministry told Black Press Media that the park will remain closed while “efforts are made to respectfully resolve the situation.”

“The Province recognizes the right to engage in peaceful protest, however it also recognizes that people and families who are simply wanting a camping experience in this particular park are – regrettably – being inconvenienced,” the ministry said.

To accommodate campers impacted, BC Parks is offering refunds to those who have already paid and assisting in making alternative plans for those who are displaced.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Ducks Unlimited 34th Annual Dinner & Auction

The fundraiser takes place on Saturday, October 13th, 2018 at the Creston & District Community Complex.

More burning prohibitions rescinded in southeast B.C.

Category 2 and 3 fires will be permitted in Southeast Fire Centre as of 1p.m. on Wednesday.

Creston: 12 candidates for council, three for mayor

Council candidates include four incumbents

Creston: 2018 candidates for the Regional District of Central Kootenay

RDCK Area A Director Garry Jackman has been elected by acclamation. 2… Continue reading

Service interruption and the issue of Boil Water Notice planned for Balfour

The RDCK will be issuing a Boil Water Notice starting on Wednesday, September 19th for all water users in Balfour.

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

NDP tax increases adding up for B.C. residents: study

Carole James says Fraser Institute analysis ignores tax relief

‘Sesame Street’ wants to clarify: Bert and Ernie aren’t gay

The characters are best friends and have many human traits but “remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation”

Province announces 74 new French teaching spots at SFU, UBC

Needed to fill demand for increasingly popular French immersion programs in B.C.

B.C. Rural Party co-founder rebukes pro-NDP accusation

Telkwa Mayor Darcy Repen disputes being NDP campaign supporter

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

Most Read