Pull Together BC builds momentum uniting Enbridge pipeline opponents

Young member of Gitxaala Nation holds the future in his hands by Paulina Otylia

With passion, creativity, and their wallets, British Columbians are demonstrating solidarity with First Nations and an ever-growing opposition to the Enbridge pipeline and tankers. Who knew stopping a pipeline could be so much fun?!

Earlier this year, a small community group up in Terrace hosted a community dinner and raised $2,000 for First Nations legal challenges.  Only four months later, the Pull Together campaign has caught fire – with over $200,000 raised!  The Haida are now onboard, joining the Gitxaala, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Nak’azdli and Nadleh Whut’en nations. In fact, the campaign has been so successful that we are increasing our fundraising goal from $250,000 to $300,000 by December 31st.

Volunteers from across BC have organized or planned more than 50 community events to raise funds for these First Nations who are going to court to stop Northern Gateway. There are more than 30 participating businesses, and over 1,000 individual donors.  Yoga studios are ‘stretching across BC’ to raise funds, corporate watchdog group SumOfUs’ members raised over $40K, and the United Church of Canada is fundraising from its congregations nationwide.  All monies raised are being matched by an anonymous donor.

When the federal government approved the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers, with conditions, we weren’t surprised.  And we were ready.  When multiple First Nations announced that they would go to court to stop the project, Sierra Club BC joined with RAVEN Trust to launch Pull-Together.ca, to enable people from across BC and Canada to make donations and hold fundraising and solidarity events in support of these legal challenges.

“The Pull Together campaign is driven by people who care and are politically astute,” said kil tlaats ‘gaa Peter Lantin, President of the Haida Nation. “They can see how the future of the country is shaping up and want to be part of it.”

Funds raised through the Pull Together campaign help support the legal challenges against Northern Gateway that have been launched by the Haida, Gitxaala, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai’xais nations – on BC’s central and north coast, along the proposed oil tanker route – and the Nadleh Whut’en and Nak’azdli nations, located in BC’s northern interior along the proposed pipeline route.

These are remote, rural communities, taking a stand against a large corporation and a federal government trying to push a pipeline and tankers on an unwilling province. They are up against big forces— and they are not standing alone.

Truly it’s inspiring.  For we are doing more than just stopping a pipeline.  We are learning how to pronounce the names of the nations who have governed this land since time before memory.  We are learning from each other about what it means to love and care for this beautiful place we call home, whether settler or first peoples.  We are honouring the courage of the nations who are going to court, and recognizing their indigenous laws and governance.  We are standing together, and standing strong.  And we are having fun - celebrating the creativity amongst us - with song and musicians and arts of all kinds.  Because why not?  We are on a journey, away from climate-polluting and oil spill-inducing projects like Northern Gateway and towards a future that recognizes indigenous governance and grounds economic decisions in ecological realities.  And any journey I have ever been on is better with music, and good company.

The Pull Together solidarity events are demonstrating our collective resilience and determination.  And they are providing a musical playlist and new friends along the way.  

We are in this for the long haul, and we are pulling together.  To grab a paddle and get involved, visit pull-together.ca.

Caitlyn Vernon is Sierra Club BC’s Campaigns Director

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