In October of 2017, The Toronto Star ran an article by Grand Chief Serge Simon called “First Nations Confident Courts Will Stop Kinder Morgan Pipeline.” The article features Grand Chief Simon voicing his oddly uncommon opinion that even though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself has given the controversial pipeline expansion the federal nod of approval, it will never break ground. I read this article and was immediately drawn in, potentially biased as I may be as an identifying Aboriginal person and an informed BC resident, the optimism and tone of the article struck a chord in me. It made me question: can we, the people, oppose the word of the government? Do we need to?
The pipeline concerns all Canadians. The Kinder Morgan expansion would mean significant deforestation and the possibility of an oil spill in the Pacific Ocean, which would be nothing short of an environmental catastrophe that would affect not only the wildlife and ecosystem, but the Canadians that inhabit the land.
The Kinder Morgan pipeline remains a looming symbol of Canada’s presence in the oil industry and how it affects our environment, our precious “home and native land.” But should the health of the economy trump that of the environment? , should the environment hold more importance than the economy? Or is there a solution where both can coexist effectively?
This topic is also one that specifically concerns the First Nations people of our country, and the question of how and why they hold so much power over the land that is no longer theirs. Grand Chief Simon outlines that the First Nations people hold more power than you would initially think. The obligations the government holds to its First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people are significant, and arguably rightly so. The Supreme Court of Canada recognizes in our Constitution that the rights to many traditional Aboriginal territories were never ceded through treaties, including much of the land this pipeline is meant to be built on. So really, the word of the Aboriginal people isn’t just of figurative importance, but literal as well.
Pipelines in Canada remain under much debate. While BC’s provincial NDP government remains incredibly opposed to the pipeline expansion, just over the Rockies, Alberta’s own NDP government supports it strongly. For Alberta’s economy and job market, the benefits of expanding the Canadian oil industry are huge. The pipeline expansion would be a boost of the current decline of Alberta’s oil market, and would create reliable jobs for thousands of Albertans currently suffering a high unemployment rate.
In this episode, we will be exploring the economic benefits of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, going into depth on the environmental impacts, and question of why the First Nations people in particular have so much to say and do with it all.
We are committed in this episode to finding how this pipeline affects Canadians specifically, what is at stake, and the power we hold as people to oppose the government “representing us.”
I’m Maja Nordine, and I’m Abby Howland, and this is Power to the People.