Anti-pipeline fundraiser draws local support from artistic community

Ben Rogers performing Cowboys and Indians at Resistance Cabaret II
Ben Rogers performing Cowboys and Indians at Resistance Cabaret II

Local poets and musicians have spoken out against plans for more pipelines in B.C. at a fundraiser in East Vancouver put on by environmental justice group, Rising Tide.

The event at the Heartwood Community Café was intended to raise funds to support protestors who have taken up residence at a site in the Peace River region called the Unist’ot’en Camp.

The Unist’ot’en Clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation have been defending the camp which sits directly in the path of a number of proposed pipelines including Enbridge Northern Gateway and Pacific Trails.

Soft blockades have been erected to prevent pipeline development in the territory since 2009 while resistance communities continue to hold residence at the camp and surrounding area.

“What they are doing is totally unjust. Together with First Nations communities, non-first nations people like myself can do what is right and stop these big oil companies from bullying their way into the earth,” said folk musician Ben Rogers, after performing one of his songs, Cowboys and Indians.

As well as activists, the camp has drawn likeminded artists who support the First Nations people against the Pacific Trails Pipeline, Enbridge, and TransCanada Corporation.

Among those artists is poet Hilary Summerville. She shared some of her experiences at the fundraiser in between readings of her poetry.

“When you’re up there you get caught up in doing the laundry, bridge duty, or just throwing the rock in the bucket. Then a helicopter or drone flies over and suddenly you remember where you are,” she said.

“It reminds you that you are living in somebodies home where people are coming at you from all sides with millions of dollars.”

A short documentary about the Unist’ot’en Camp has been viewed almost 200,000 times on YouTube and has been featured on Upworthy. This documentary, How to stop an oil and gas pipeline: The Unist’ot’en Camp Resistence, was screened halfway through the evening.

Organizer and Rising Tide member Michael Ages visited the camp last year. The experience was “life changing”. His time at the camp made Ages “want to be a lot more active in directly opposing pipelines and fossil fuel expansions.”

Ricardo Khayatte

Ricardo Khayatte