Tiny House Warriors win human rights award for ‘heroic resistance’ against TMX

For almost four years, the Tiny House Warriors They have been working to prevent the TMX pipeline from encroaching on their territory and, as of Tuesday, Secwe̓pemc land defenders have a human rights award to accompany their efforts.

The group, which has been building tiny houses in Blue River, BC, since 2017 in an attempt to block the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, received the Carole Geller Human Rights Award and the accompanying $ 15,000. The recognition is welcome, said Kanahus Manuel of the Tiny House Warriors at a virtual event, as is the money, which will help with the rising legal fees associated with their frontline action.

Kanahus Manuel, birthing caretaker and member of the Tiny House Warriors. The tiny houses provide accommodation for the families of Secwe̓pemc, while also acting as a barrier to the expansion of TMX. Photo provided by Kanahus Manuel

The award, which was presented to members of the Idle No More movement in 2013, is named after the first executive director of the Manitoba Office of Pay Equity and human rights activist Carole Geller.

“This is a pivotal moment in the history of Indigenous Peoples and Canada,” Shelagh Day said on behalf of the awards committee.

“The Tiny House Warriors defend the rights and sovereignty of indigenous people, the land and its resources, and the rights of indigenous women to be safe from male violence. They are also drawing the attention of all Canadians that respect for the fundamental human rights of indigenous peoples is at stake in the fight for the pipelines. “

Manuel pointed to his late father Arthur Manuel, an indigenous leader and activist known for writing The Manifesto of Reconciliation and Haunting canada, who said that he would always say that it is “the land and self-determination that we are fighting for.”

“As human rights defenders, we know that, as indigenous peoples, we have the right to land and we have the right to self-determination,” he said.

“And that includes homes, and that includes going and living exclusively on our territory without interference from Canada or the colonial government.”

The group of indigenous land advocates, which has been building tiny houses in Blue River, BC since 2017 in an attempt to block the pipeline, received the Carole Geller Human Rights Award on Tuesday. #TMX #TinyHouseWarriors

The TMX pipeline, originally built in the 1950s, was acquired by Texas-based Kinder Morgan in 2015, which then made plans to triple exports from the existing operation, increasing production to 890,000 barrels a day flowing from Alberta. to the coast of British Columbia. The federal government bought the pipeline in 2018 for $ 4.5 billion. The Trans Mountain expansion is projected to cost $ 12.6 billion and is opposed by hundreds of First Nations, as well as the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby.

In addition to opposing the pipeline, the Tiny House Warriors are also deeply concerned about the “men’s camp” attached to the project, in which 550 temporary pipeline workers would live during construction. Reports show a direct correlation between labor camps and violence against women in nearby communities.

The event was hosted by Pamela Palmater, Mi’kmaq attorney and president of indigenous governance at Ryerson University, who spoke about the work of Tiny House Warriors and other land defenders in protecting the environment. TO report Earlier this year, indigenous resistance to fossil fuel projects in Canada and the United States over the past decade was found to have halted or delayed the equivalent of a quarter of the two countries’ annual carbon emissions.

“We are all facing a global climate crisis that demands that we stop destroying the planet and take steps to restore the damage that has been done,” he said.

“In this way, indigenous human rights and land defenders are leading the way for all of us. There is no more important time than now to support indigenous human rights defenders in this critical work ”.

Pamela Palmater, Mi’kmaq attorney and chair of indigenous governance at Ryerson University. Photo by Lisa MacIntosh

Also present was Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, a member of the executive board of the Union of Indian Chiefs of British Columbia, who spoke from Scotland, where she is attending the UN climate summit, COP26. He said that considering the impact that indigenous land defenders have on the climate and indigenous rights, there is very little recognition and, at the same time, they are being criminalized. He said that this goes against the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which recognizes the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples regarding projects that may affect them or their territories.

Recipients stood in front of one of their tiny houses during the virtual event, adorned with a black, white and red mural. Manuel described numerous ways that the Tiny House Warriors, as well as indigenous defenders of the land in general, are in danger while on the front lines, while emphasizing his dedication to protecting the land from the fossil fuel industry. .

“We are constant, it is not a nine to five job. This is a 24 hour job. With every breath, we are praying for our lands, for our freedom and liberation, and for our land and our self-determination, ”said Manuel.

“So thank you for this recognition.”


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