Dozens of Students Arrested in Ottawa Protesting Kinder Morgan Pipeline
Millennials tell Trudeau – “approve a pipeline, lose our generation”
Ottawa, ON – Today, nearly 100 students and youth from across Canada were arrested in Ottawa in the largest act of youth-led climate civil disobedience in Canadian history. The students marched from the University of Ottawa to Parliament Hill where they were arrested trying to cross police barricades towing an oversized chalkboard sporting climate science backing up their message for the Prime Minister – climate leaders don’t build pipelines.
“Climate leaders don’t build pipelines,” explained Sophie Birks, a Mcgill University student arrested at the action. “My generation wants to see real action on climate change and Indigenous rights. That starts with rejecting the Kinder Morgan pipeline.”
Youth travelled from all across Canada to participate in and support the action, including Cedar Parker-George, a member of the Tsleil Waututh Nation, whose traditional territory faces the terminus of the Kinder Morgan pipeline in the Burrard Inlet in Vancouver, BC.
“The Kinder Morgan pipeline would directly threaten my nation and my home,” Parker-George explained. “Justin Trudeau promised to listen to Indigenous communities, well my community has been pretty clear; reject this pipeline and protect the water, the land and the climate”.
Organizers of the action cited the rising political power of millennials, expected to be one of the largest voting blocs in Canada by the next federal election, in their reasons for taking action. According to polling, 45% of people 18-24 voted Liberal in the 2015 election and people under 35 oppose pipelines more than older generations.
“My generation elected this government to take real action on climate change and Indigenous rights, not to build pipelines,” said Amanda Harvey-Sanchez, a University of Toronto student arrested at the action. “I hope Trudeau is paying attention today, because if he approves the Kinder Morgan pipeline, he will lose millennials like me that are looking for bold climate leaders, not pipeline politicians.”
Close to 100 students and youth were arrested on Parliament Hill today for their participation in what organizers describe as “the largest act of youth-led climate civil disobedience in Canadian history.”
“I came to Ottawa today to risk arrest, and ultimately to be arrested,” Gabriel D’Astous, a recent UBC graduate, explained to Ricochet by phone. “I want to send a message to the prime minister that he must have a climate policy which respects not only climate science, but Indigenous rights, and that means rejecting the Kinder Morgan pipeline.”
“Climate leaders don’t build pipelines,” explained Sophie Birks, a McGill University student who was also arrested at the action, in a statement. “My generation wants to see real action on climate change and Indigenous rights. That starts with rejecting the Kinder Morgan pipeline.”
According to organizers, around 200 people left the University of Ottawa this morning and marched to Parliament Hill. After first finding one gate to the grounds blocked by police, they were able to gain access to the property via another gate. When they attempted to cross barricades in front of the main stairs to enter parliament, they were arrested.
Police confirmed to organizers that a total of 99 people were arrested today. Video released by the group shows students standing in line to be arrested while chanting “we believe that we will win.”
“We wanted to deliver a very clear message to the prime minister, Justin Trudeau, who is also the minister of youth, and say that we want him to reject the Kinder Morgan pipeline,” added D’Astous. “The police weren’t allowing us to deliver that message to parliament, so when we crossed fences to deliver that message they put us under arrest.”
“If Trudeau thinks he can approve pipelines and still appeal to millennials in 2019 he has a big problem on his hands.”
According to D’Astous, those arrested were held for over an hour before being released without charges.
“We were given a trespassing notice, which means that we’re banned from returning to parliament for the next three months. We didn’t receive a ticket, or any criminal charges.”
Organizers of the action cited data showing that millennials are expected to be one of the largest voting blocks in Canada by the next federal election, that they voted overwhelmingly for the Liberals in last year’s contest, and that they oppose pipelines at a higher rate than any other generation.
“These youth who were arrested today will be going home and organizing in their communities,” Cam Fenton of 350 Canada, which coordinated today’s action, told Ricochet. “If Trudeau thinks he can approve pipelines and still appeal to millennials in 2019 he has a big problem on his hands.”
Police detain 99 during Hill pipeline protest
The protest resulted in the brief detention of 99 individuals, all of them issued citations by the RCMP for trespassing after climbing over police barricades near the foot of the Peace Tower.
The immediate focus of the demonstration was the proposed expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C., which the Liberals have said they’ll decide upon by mid-December.
But the larger theme was keeping fossil fuels in the ground, as many signs proclaimed, and urging Trudeau to keep his word on Canada’s international emissions-cutting promises.
“Climate Leaders Don’t Build Pipelines,” said a giant banner carried at the front of the protest group, which was dominated by university students from Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.
Protest organizers called it the largest act of student climate civil disobedience in Canadian history, but the boisterous rally was a polite affair.
After some initial pushing and shoving at the police barricades, the protesters began individually climbing over the gates, often with police assistance, where they were then charged. The first dozen or so were handcuffed before being led away, but most of the detained protesters were not.
Andrew Stein, a McGill University environmental sciences student, said forcing the police to arrest them was the point of the exercise.
“It gets attention and it gets the word out there that climate leaders do not build pipelines,” Stein said in an interview shortly before climbing the barricade himself.
Protest spokeswoman Amanda Harvey-Sanchez, a third-year University of Toronto student, said pipeline approvals are a deal-breaker for many younger voters who helped propel the Trudeau Liberals to a majority government in last October’s general election.
“If Trudeau wants us on his team in 2019, he cannot approve this (Trans Mountain) pipeline,” said Harvey-Sanchez.
“We’re coming here to the capital to call on Trudeau to reject Kinder Morgan.”
Protest organizers said the 99 detained individuals, including Stein and Harvey-Sanchez, were issued citations that bar them from Parliament Hill for three months, but they were not fined.
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By The Canadian Press