The Kootenay to Kitimat Caravan set off on its 1,600 kilometre drive to northern BC on Monday to show opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.
With stops in cities along the way — including Castlegar, Grand Forks, Kelowna, Kamloops, Prince George and Williams Lake — the four men travelling in the caravan are collecting signatures on a proclamation of solidarity with people who live on the proposed pipeline route.
Already hundreds have signed the proclamation in Nelson and made donations to support the caravan trip.
“There were many people who couldn’t come to Kitimat with us but wanted to help anyway they could,” said caravan organizer Keith Wiley.
He jokingly refers to his fellow caravaners as the “geezer gang,” four grey haired men in matching t-shirts bearing the message, “No pipeline. No tankers. No problem.”
At the official send-off for the caravan in Nelson, about 30 people gathered at City Hall to wish them well, including local politicians from all levels of government.
Among them was Nelson councillor Candace Batycki who last week brought forward a successful motion for council to officially oppose the pipeline and support the caravan on behalf of residents.
“I’m proud to live in a city that understands the importance to standing up to support other municipal governments and First Nations governments,” Batycki said.
“Enbridge might have the millions and millions of dollars to buy a bunch of slick TV adds, but we have the power of the people and the love of the land and the love of the sea, and love beats greed every time.”
NDP Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko said the caravan will find lots of support throughout BC.
“It’s not just radicals that oppose this pipeline, it’s people from all political stripes,” he said, recalling the presentations he heard when he attended the joint review panel hearing for the pipeline. “I’ve seen everyone from grandmothers to young people giving emotional presentations against the project.”
He said there’s not much he can do federally to stop the project, with the Conservative majority government in favour of the pipeline. But he suggested the province could stop it from coming into BC.
Nelson-Creston NDP MLA Michelle Mungall agreed.
“We [NDP MLAs] are going to do whatever it takes to stop the pipeline. If it means standing at the Alberta border and saying ‘you’re not crossing,’ we’re prepared to do that,” she said.
More likely the NDP would fight the pipeline in court. Mungall said her party is already planning legal action if the pipeline is approved.
But Wiley and the rest of the caravan hope it won’t come to that. He hopes with enough opposition, the proposal will be denied.
“I think the massive opposition to this Enbridge project is a turning point,” Wiley said. “It is when Canadians say, ‘no, we don’t want more big industrial fossil fuel projects ... we want a new healthy path and economy that serves life and nature, not profit and consumerism.”
For updates from the Kootenay to Kitimat Caravan, search Facebook for “Kootenays for a Pipeline-Free BC.”