The following is the statement made to the court by Salt Spring’s Heather Martin McNab upon being sentenced for protesting the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
Thank you for this opportunity to make my statement today in this court on unceded Coast Salish Territories.
I am a mother and grandmother, still working full time between two jobs. I have had my job with special needs adults and the same employer for 30 years and have had my own commercial cleaning contracts for the past 10 years. I am a basket maker and artist.
I am also a Zen Buddhist and am wearing my Rakasu. It is a representation of Buddha’s robes and of the vows I took in 2011. The first precept is similar to the first commandment in that it has deeper layers of spiritual depth and meaning than the statement “not to kill.” Thich Naht Hanh translates this precept as “reverence for life” and as all life is connected and inter dependent. It refers to all of nature and everything within it. I became a Buddhist because the precepts align with my own values and it is those very values and my vows that would not let me stand down.
Even the grieving mother orca would not stand down when she held her dead baby up for weeks while being supported by her pod. If that was not an organized protest, I don’t know what is! She held her dead baby up for the world to see as if to say, “Look what you have done! Look what you are doing!” The resident pods are starving to death. They are unwell and they are in serious decline. If the pipeline goes through, there will be more sonar, more engine droning and much more tanker traffic. Spills are inevitable, but even the increased traffic will harm the whales and other marine mammals. There is no way to determine the number of leaks and spills that will happen along our coast and along the pipeline, but we know they will take place.
I am dumbfounded as to why the Trudeau government would buy this pipeline project in the first place and at such an atrocious cost to the taxpayers and the environment.
I can only surmise that what we call democracy is a front to the backroom politics manipulated by corporations, who hold the strings most of our politicians dance to.
This buyout sends a clear message to the rest of the world that although the Canadian government is well aware of all the scientific facts regarding climate change and fuel emissions, it has no intention of meeting our climate goals. Continuing to invest in outdated, costly and harmful technology rather than investing in renewable, clean energy options sends a message that the Canadian government lacks innovation and forethought. It tells the rest of the world that the Canadian government will not hold our end of the responsibility to meet the Paris Climate agreement to reduce climate change.
We have no way to determine the costs of clean up, how clean is clean enough, or how much damage will be irreversible. We know that the environmental costs are immediate and have far reaching consequences. Regulations will not prevent disasters from happening.
On the heels of reconciliation, this project threatens to pass through unceded territories, breaking treaties and agreements with First Nations leaders and the people. Canada has a shameful history of genocide, human rights issues and broken treaties. Canada’s government and the corporate giants, who were the forefathers of today’s corporate giants, did their best to wipe out First Nations people and culture for a rampant greed called progress. After all that they have endured, they stand strong and now more and more of the settler population stands with them and takes their lead to protect the earth for the sake of the next seven generations.
I am proud and saddened to be on this side of the struggle to wake our government up to what is truly at stake.