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Salmon Arm  

Tiny home pipeline protest

First Nations protesters started building tiny homes Thursday, directly in the path of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, an idea drawn from an influential Indigenous movement in the United States.

Activists say the houses are symbols of sustainability in the face of what they see as an environmentally damaging project. They are based on structures built at a sprawling protest camp in North Dakota initiated by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

The protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline drew international attention and was credited with achieving a temporary halt to construction. Kanahus Manuel of the Secwepemc Nation said she hopes the structures also have a powerful effect in Canada.

"Our goal is to stop this pipeline. Our goal is to stop investors from investing in this pipeline," she said.

"If I don't stand up for my rights and our title as a Secwepemc woman and as a mother, I'm leaving this fight even greater for my children. I love my children so much that I'll do whatever I can to protect their water and their salmon for all of their future."

Trans Mountain, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan Canada, plans to begin construction this month on a $7.4-billion expansion of its 1,150-kilometre pipeline that carries crude oil from Alberta to B.C.'s southern coast.

Members of the Secwepemc Nation and Greenpeace gathered at a site near Chase on Thursday to build the first of 10 tiny homes that they say will be moved to Secwepemc traditional territory near Kamloops to block pipeline construction.

Manuel said she lived in a tiny home at the Dakota protest for three months in 2016 and asked the designer to create plans for structures that could be placed along the Trans Mountain route.

The insulated wood houses are to be occupied by Secwepemc people who are struggling with inadequate housing. They are to be 5.5 metres wide and 3.6 metres tall, with wood stoves and solar panels, she said.

"A part of this tiny house project and movement is that we want to continue to have these, not just as a battle against the Kinder Morgan pipeline, but to help solve some of the housing crises that Indigenous people are facing," she said.



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