This Article is part of the Tar Sands Reporting Project special report See the full report

Dances with Wolves actor joins "Wall of Women" opposed to Kinder Morgan Expansion

Kinder Morgan now has to get past a "Wall of Women" in addition to other obstacles to realize its pipeline expansion plans.

Photograph of Tantoo Cardinal by Zack Embree

"It breaks your soul," actor Tantoo Cardinal said, deep in a conversation about growing up in Alberta's boreal forest. Cardinal had flown into Vancouver from Toronto to join  the "Wall of Women" opposing Kinder Morgan's oil pipeline expansion. The group included Squamish First Nation leader Mandy Nahanee, Lubicon Cree First Nation leader Melina Laboucan-Massimo, and Vancouver City Councillor Andrea Reimer.

Cardinal, who starred in Dances with Wolves (1990), Legends of the Fall (1994) and Black Robe (1991), grew up drinking water from the rivers and lakes near Fort McMurray and the changes that have taken place since Canada's bitumen boom, make her crazy, she said. This is what inspired her to travel from Toronto to oppose the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion in Vancouver.

"It was a pain in my being for many years. I felt hopeless and desolate because nobody believed me," she said, of the environmental destruction she warned was happening in Alberta's tar sands. 

"Nobody wanted to hear about it. People were making money and living the life. I was a wild-eyed actress who had no sense of reality. Going back, it was all poison, I couldn’t see myself living there. It was filled with all these people from all around the world, their eyes were on fire with all the money they were making."

Cardinal and the other activists stood on the beach Ambleside Park on a cold, rainy Saturday morning, preparing to up the ante on their fight to stop the American pipeline company from bringing more tar sands bitumen from Alberta through to the coastal waters of Vancouver.  

To Cardinal, the real issue is water.

"Water is the central core issue,"  Cardinal said, her back to English Bay. 

As for Kinder Morgan, "they’re just part of the ball of energy that has been destructive from the very beginning."

"It's the same energy as Harper and his new finance minister, Joe Oliver... Oh, my God,you know?" Cardinal shook her head, her dark brown eyes filled with a look of consternation.  

"They really see themselves as manifest destiny, the lords of the earth -- and that’s insane."

"They might be considered all powerful and come out with their guns but we as human beings, it’s our responsibility to stand in protection of that life force that’s water. Part of that club.  I haven’t heard anything that makes it sound like Joe Oliver understands the sacredness of water.  Not from him.

"We have to understand that we are a species on this planet. We aren’t the rulers on this planet.  It’s not up to us to decide who lives and dies.  Who are those guys who design wars over oil, wars over water? 

"As far as I’m concerned, they have no right."

Photograph of "Wall of Women" at Ambleside Park in West Vancouver  by Zack Embree for Greenpeace

Photograph below: Cardinal (fourth from left) beside Melina Laboucan-Massimo (third from left) and Mandy Nahanee  (fifth from left) in a photograph of the "Wall of Women"  by Zack Embree for Greenpeace.

Photograph below of Mandee Nahanee at Wall of Women Kinder Morgan protest by Zack Embree for Greenpeace

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