Kanesehta:ke, June 14, 2014 – The citizens who have been walking for 700km to protest the expansion of pipelines and tar sands in Quebec achieved their goal as they arrived this morning in Kanehseta:ke.
For the past month, the marcheurs have been following the proposed routes of the TransCanada Energy East and Enbridge Line 9 pipelines to raise awareness in communities directly impacted by these projects. The pipelines will transport tar sands from Alberta through Quebec and on to New Brunswick.
The marcheurs, aged 4 to 76, succeeeded in gathering over a thousand signatures for the “Declaration to Protect Our Territory”, an initiative of the “Coule Pas Chez Nous!” (“Don’t Spill in Our Home!”) campaign, which asks municipal, provicincial and federal representatives to work towards a future of community-based, renewable and responsible energy sources.
Like the choice to begin the walk in Cacouna, where TransCanada plan to build an oil port, the decision to end the walk on Mohawk territory was quite intentional. The territory of more than 155 indigenous is threatened by the TransCanada pieline, and the marcheurs hope to unite their voice with those of First Nations to promote respect for the environment, with inspiration from the mobilization initiated by western Canadians against the Northern Gateway pipeline. “Thanks to the citizen’s initiative of the Peoples’ March for Mother Earth, it has now been 34 days that First Nations and Quebecois have been walking side by side in the spirit of collaboration to resist these irresponsible pipleine projects that pollute our land and our water. The dialogue between peoples has started in Quebec, and a common resistance between nations is growing. Our peoples united will never be defeated!” asserted Nicholas Ouellet, a law student from Saint-Joseph-du-Lac who has been organizing in the march.
The feelings of the marcheur is echoed by Melissa Mollen Dupuis, who was in Kanehseta:ke today to welcome the walk in the name of Idle No More Quebec: “It’s amazing to see the possibilities of creating links and collaboration between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. What is unfortunate is that this connection is faced with the urgency of protecting the environment against an extractivist culture that dominates the Canadian economy. Faced with the destruction of our Mother Earth, we will all be impacted if we don’t stand together today.”
Other representatives from First Nations were also present, such as Clayton Thomas-Muller from Idle No More and Defenders of the Land, Ellen Gabriel from the traditional council of Kanesehta:ke, and Serge Simon, the Grand Chief of the Kanesehta:ke band council. The latter addressed the walkers to honorably welcome them into his community: “I have so much respect for your sacrifice, and I know your personal engagement wasn’t physically or emotionally easy. You inspire me with hope for the future of our environment and humanity. I’m excited to hear your stories and your dreams for the actions that will come.”
A traditional ceremony was held to mark the end of the Peoples’ March for Mother Earth, and to symbolically pass the baton to the walk that will continue on to Parliament Hill in Ottawa, from June 15 – 22.