Published on November 3rd, 2017 | by Steve Hanley0
Tiny Houses With Solar Panels Fight Trans Mountain Pipeline
November 3rd, 2017 by Steve Hanley
Kinder Morgan is not a household name, but it is one of the largest energy transportation companies in North America. According to its website, it owns “an interest in or operate approximately 84,000 miles of pipelines and 155 terminals.” The company is planning to build what it calls the Trans Mountain pipeline to carry crude oil from the Alberta tar sands to an ocean terminal in Vancouver. But the proposed pipeline crosses more than 300 miles of land claimed as tribal lands by the Secwepemc Nation in British Columbia and the indigenous people aren’t about to let that happen without a fight.
Their weapon of choice? A solar powered tiny house community strategically located along the proposed route of the $7.4 billion Trans Mountain pipeline. The resistance is being led by Kanahus Manuel, founder of the Secwepemc Women’s Warrior Society. She says each tiny house is a symbol of sustainability. She lived in such a house for three months in 2016 as part of the Standing Rock protest and asked the person who designed that structure to create plans for the small homes that will be set in place along the Trans Mountain pipeline route.
Each tiny house will have space for about 5 people. They are constructed of wood with sustainable insulation. A small wood stove will be used for heat and the preparation of meals. The structures are mounted on 18-foot long trailers so they can be transported to where they are needed most as the battle with Kinder Morgan progresses. Composting toilets will be constructed outside each unit.
The group calls itself the Tiny House Warriors. Their goal is not only to block the pipeline — which they say will endanger the land they consider part of their ancestral home and the water that flows through it — but also to help alleviate a tribal housing crisis and provide places to run language camps, teach traditional birthing practices and teach traditional tattooing techniques.
Unlike the United States, where protesters with a social conscience are deemed terrorists and charged with felonies punishable by 40 years in prison, Canada has a somewhat more enlightened approach to its indigenous people (emphasis on “somewhat”). Not all native tribes are opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline. Fifty one First Nation groups have signed mutual benefit agreements with Trans Mountain, including some that are part of the broader Secwepemc Nation, spurred no doubt by rosy predictions of new jobs and other economic benefits that may or may not materialize.
Kinder Morgan, using the finest language professional public relations experts can devise, says,
“We are committed to working with Aboriginal communities where we operate. Our goal is to build and sustain effective relationships based on mutual respect, to share mutual benefits and to work cooperatively and transparently with Aboriginal groups. The [Trans Mountain] Project presents a special opportunity to enhance existing relationships with Aboriginal communities along our pipeline corridor, while also opening the door to new relationships, including coastal Aboriginal communities with respect to marine transportation and safety. The dialogue to date has been invaluable to our Project planning and to developing understanding between communities and our industry. We look forward to building and nurturing these relationships.”
Kanahus Manuel has a different perspective, which she states with elegant simplicity in the video below. She speaks of how her people have lived on tribal lands “since the beginning of time,” a fact supported by the existence of carved tusks from mastodons crafted by her ancestors and handed down from generation to generation. She speaks of how the blood and the bones of her forebears are an integral part of the land.
She also has a larger global focus. The oil from the Alberta tar sands is often referred to as a “carbon bomb” by Bill McKibben and others, the final assault on the atmosphere that will drive average temperatures so high that human life as we know it will become unsustainable. I encourage you to watch the entire video to learn more about the deeply held faith that powers these Tiny House Warriors.
What can you — or any of us — do to support the Secwepemc Nation? The tribe has a Facebook page and its own website. Share them with the people in your social network or use them to inspire you to organize your own resistance movement. As Margaret Mead famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Source: Earth First Journal Photo credit: YouTube