In the weeks following the Kwekwecnewtxw – Protect The Inlet March, every day saw protesters and water protectors, led by Coast Salish Indigenous leaders, marching from the Watchhouse to the gates of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Terminal where work on the expansion was underway. The front gate was blockaded by hundreds of people in an effort to slow the work and protest the expansion, with eventually over 200 arrested for breaking an injunction and dozens sentenced to jail time.
On March 22, World Water Day, Indigenous Women Water Protectors, Melina Laboucan-Massimo and Audrey Siegl, led activists as they set out that morning. At the gates, in the heavy rain, they paused to drum and sing, before leading the group down the hill to where tree clearance had begun in anticipation of construction. In a symbolic act of protecting and nurturing nature, and recognition of water as sustaining all life, two saplings were planted in the recently cleared land.
The group then returned to the gate to continue the blockade and cycle of arrests. For most people it was their first experience of going up against the law, but along with tens of thousands of British Columbians they had committed to putting themselves in the path of the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion to protect the water, protect the inlet and protect the climate. For those who had spent their lives being law abiding citizens, it was quite an emotional and challenging experience.