Locals protest pipeline plan

Members of the Splatsin First Nation, Okanagan Indian Band and a well-known environmental activist in Vernon are planning to take part in a rally and march on Saturday against Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline project. Others are travelling from Penticton and Kelowna.

The rally outside Vancouver City Hall is expected to draw thousands of people.

"They're not protesting something, they are protecting something," said Jody Leon, Secwepemc and Lake Babine Nation legal and social activist. "They include environmentalists, water protectors, people of many First Nations.

"This is not a race-based thing. People are taking part regardless of age or race. Some use walkers or are in wheelchairs. This is a movement based on unity."

Some of those taking part will be aboard a chartered bus leaving Vernon at 5:30 a.m. They include activist Bill Darnell, considered a founding member of the Greenpeace movement. The bus then heads to Kamloops to pick up more people before the drive to the Vancouver rally.

People have been urged to bring signs and hand drums.

“Kinder Morgan’s pipeline is a threat to the water," said Leon. "Our water is sacred, and we are first connected to it through our mothers.”

Kinder Morgan hopes to triple the capacity of the Trans Mountain line by laying almost 1,000 kilometres of new pipe between Edmonton and Burnaby. This would increase the number of tankers in Burrard Inlet to an estimated 34 from the current five per month.

The federal government must rule on the project by December.

"This prime minister made a lot of commitments, including on protection of the land. We are being pro-active and saying 'we know you are making a decision in December and you had better listen to the voice of the people'."

On Monday, a candlelit vigil will be held outside the Vernon Recreation Centre at 6 p.m. in another peaceful action against the pipeline proposal.

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