OHSWEKEN – On Sunday, Carla’s Tea and Bannock held a fundraiser for the Pull Together group at Six Nations tourism. The Pull Together group is trying to fund First Nations legal challenges against the Enbridge Northern gateway pipeline. Five west coast First Nations – the Heiltsuk, Kitasoo-Xai’xais, Gitxaala, Nadleh Whut’en and Nak’azdli – are launching a legal challenge because they believe that the Northern Gateway project will negatively impact their lands, water, people and their constitutionally-protected rights. They also believe that this project doesn’t just affect First Nations, which is why everyone should pull together to fight it. So far, the group has raised $296,200 of their $300,000 goal.
People from different communities, such as Toronto and Hamilton, attended and participated at the event. Carla Robinson, formerly with the CBC and BCTV, opened the event by talking about how her parents’ house looks over the mouth of the Douglas Channel.
“They plan on having three oil tankers larger than the Empire State Building there at all times,” she said.
She also stated that “it was important to note that this event is on the same day as the winter solstice, and for our spiritual beliefs that is important. It’s time to rejuvenate because we have to replenish our soul in order to fight for what our soul believes in, as well.”
Elder Cam Stats opened with a traditional prayer, followed by a discussion about oil pipelines with Danielle Boyssoneau and Trish Mills from Hamilton. Boyssoneau spoke about the Enbridge pipeline number nine that runs through most of Southwestern Ontario’s watershed.
“The pipeline is almost 40-years-old and has 13,000 instances of cracks, dents and corrosion. That’s 13,000 chances of oil spilling into our water. This pipeline crosses the Grand River and Lake Ontario, directly affecting our drinking water.”
She also stated that “smaller” leaks of under 1500 litres don’t even have to be reported by Enbridge. Trish Mills told the audience that the 39-year-old 9A pipeline which runs through Six Nations territory “does not meet today’s standards.”
Wendy Hill of Six Nations spoke at the event, as well.
“It really inspires me when somebody takes it upon themselves by trying to stand up to the bullies that are still trying to capitalize at the expense of our health and our future,” she said.
Hill also made reference to who Onkwehon:we people are today. She noted that “a lot of these companies say we are hypocrites because we drive cars, we no longer live in the homes our ancestors lived in, and we no longer grow our own gardens. Just because we drive cars and we live similar to you doesn’t mean that our knowledge and values aren’t there. What was given to us as native people as a responsibility was to take care of the earth, take care of wildlife, our brothers and sisters and the plants. We have been given the responsibility to speak up.”
There was also an auction and articles for sale provided by supporters to raise funds. Award-winning photographer Mark Zelinski, who was in attendance, donated some of his autographed published pictorial books. Cher Obediah donated some of the popular Proud To Be! Shirts and hoodies; Gail Obediah sang beautifully for the audience and Leenah Robinson designed T-shirts that read, “Say no to the pipe. No pipelines, no problem.” The event raised $800. For more information please go to www.pulltogether.ca