“Kill This Black Snake” read the sign held by one of the many students who attended a vigil outside the Ralph Pickard Bell library. The phrase, used by many Indigenous water protectors in pipeline protests, references a Lakota prophecy in which a black snake (zuzeca sape) crosses the land, causing ruin and disaster.
More than 60 members of the Sackville community, most of them students, held a candlelit vigil on Monday, Nov. 21, showing their opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline. This was one of more than 40 other vigils held across Canada on the same day.
The vigil was organized by Divest MTA, the campus branch of a larger movement advocating for climate justice and for the university to divest from fossil fuels. One of the organizers and speakers at the event, Alex Lepianka, said, “I think that…acts made in solidarity with frontline activists, organizers and those who are suffering injustice around the world are critical to building a consciousness of the systems of oppression that exist.”
The proposed $6.8 billion pipeline expansion would run parallel to the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline, increasing capacity to 890,000 barrels of diluted bitumen per day from Edmonton, A.B., to Burnaby, B.C. Along the way, the Trans Mountain pipeline crosses over 15 native reserves and various traditional lands. Tankers transporting oil put hundreds of other Indigenous territories at risk.
Students present at the vigil had much to say about their opposition of the pipeline.
Third-year student Marley Caddell said the violation of Indigenous rights was a major issue. “Especially when there’s been so much media coverage concerning the Dakota Access Pipeline, it’s really important for Canada to follow through with their intentions of indigenizing the country, and if they construct the Kinder Morgan pipeline, they’re completely going against that,” she said.
Third-year student Linnea Bell said it was important for the most privileged to speak out about what is detrimental to the less privileged. “We should be the most vocal in [Kinder Morgan’s] opposition, because we have that opportunity,” she said.
Third-year student Caeleigh Marshall said educational institutions should play a role in opposing pipelines such as Kinder Morgan. “Climate change has been scientifically supported by 95 per cent or more of the scientific community. And so, at an institution like this with a strong science faculty as well as a strong arts faculty, I think it’s very important to not be hypocritical and to look to the future instead of looking to the present.”