The big Alberta related news this weekend is about the flooding throughout many parts of the province, including the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from neighbourhoods all over Calgary. But here in Ontario, a small but dedicated group is more concerned about another flood, the flood of Alberta tar sands oil that might be passing through our area via a new pipeline.
Now when most people hear the word "pipeline" they think of the Keystone XL pipeline, the proposed run from the tar sands to refineries in Texas, there's also the Northern Gateway Pipeline, which takes Alberta oil to the British Columbia shore. But really, Alberta oil runs throughout this country, and some enterprising environmentalists in our neck of the woods want to draw attention to that and take direction to make it stop.
Now I know a lot people aren't found of occupations, whether its on Wall Street or in Hanlon Creek Business Park, but I do understand the desire on the part of these protestors, feeling as though they have no other option but ti occupy. I also feel there are times where we look at the tar sands as an ATM, and that with the mantra of "jobs, jobs, jobs," makes us blind to even the most predictable problems involved with the exploitation of oil.
From the "About Us" section Swamp Line 9's Tumblr page dated June 20:
As this statement is released, we are digging in and occupying Enbridge’s North Westover Pump Station in the Beverly Swamp. We have done this to stop construction in preparation for the reversal of their Line 9 Pipeline to carry toxic diluted bitumen from the Alberta Tar Sands through our communities and watersheds, likely for export.
For the past year, we have organized in our communities across Southern Ontario to raise awareness of Enbridge’s plan to reverse Line 9. Increased awareness quickly lead to concern and to a desire from our communities to at the very least make our voices heard about our opposition to this project. What we found was a rigged game, where the political party most indebted to the oil industry had taken spectacular measures to remove the usual environmental oversights from Line 9 and other pipeline projects. The Line 9 reversal is, from the perspective of the powerful, a foregone conclusion and they have insultingly offered only the most meaningless opportunities for public engagement.
Of course, we understand that even if there had been a full Environmental Assessment, this project would still be going ahead. If anything, the federal government simply had the good courtesy to be honest that they just don’t give a shit what anyone thinks. Although we have few illusions about process, it is very much the case that the removal of the usual process is what has lead to this exceptional step of occupying a construction site. Deprived of all other options for dissent, the move to direct action to stop this reversal is obvious to even the most law-abiding of people. Perhaps we should thank the federal government for removing the usual sham of participation to make it clear that there is no pipeline debate – there is just a pipeline fight.
We are establishing a camp on Enbridge property in the middle of the Beverly Swamp, the largest remaining forested wetland in Southern Ontario. The health of this wetland is crucial to the health of the Spencer Creek, which feeds Cootes Paradise, the beautiful marshland that forms the western end of Lake Ontario. Protecting the water is vitally important — once water is poisoned, it can’t be undone.
This is also stolen Indigenous land and is the traditional territory of the Chonnonton people as well as of the Mississagi Anishinabec and the Onondawaga Haudenosaunee. This pipeline crosses the territories of dozens of Indigenous nations along its route, including the Six Nations of the Grand River who have taken an inspiring lead in building resistance to Line 9. “The whole thing about Line 9 is that it’s going through our territory and Enbride hasn’t consulted us or talked to us at all,” said Missy Elliot of Six Nations. “What’s best for the land is what’s best for our people. We have to protect the land - this isn’t just a side project for us, we have to protect our future. It’s our responsibility.”
If you want to support us, drop by the site! We will be maintaining an info point at the mouth of the North Westover driveway, on Concession 6 W just west of Westover Rd, in Flamborough. We welcome any donations of food, camping supplies, money, or whatever you think would be useful. We also encourage you to come join us, whether just for a few hours or for a few days.
Today an e-mail was sent out updating everyone about the situation at the Beverly Swamp pump station, and anyone wishing to help out is invited to come to the occupation site and lend their support.
On June 20th, grassroots activists and land defenders walked onto Enbridge's North Westover Pump Station in the Beverly Swamp with the intention to blockade construction and occupy the site. Enbridge is ostensibly upgrading the pump station in anticipation the National Energy Board's ruling on the Line 9 pipeline reversal project this coming fall.
People have set up camp and have disrupted the upgrades. This is being done in support of delicate ecosystems and native and non native communities all along Line 9.
Please come and visit the site. It is located on Concession Rd 6 W just west of Westover Rd in Flamborough. Concession Rd 6 W intersects with Highway 6. Your messages of support as well as donations of food, camping supplies and cash are all very welcome. Most importantly, however, we need to spread the word. Please tweet, update your status and invite your friends. We really do hope to see you there.
Visit our Tumblr at: http://swampline9.tumblr.com/
I haven't seen a lot about these protests in the press, so it will be interesting to see how effective the Swamp Line 9 will be, or if their message might have legs beyond our immediate area. The tar sands and pipelines to and from remain a contentious and derisive issue for a lot of Canadians, and while I hope this protest creates some discussion, I don't think it's the end of the line for the debate.