Letter from Billie Pierre (July 2013)

My name is Billie Pierre, and I’m from the Nlaka’Pamux Nation. I’m writing this letter in direct opposition to Kinder Morgan’s proposal to double their existing Trans Mountain pipeline through our unceded territory. I encourage every person of the Nlaka’Pamux Nation to stand together and oppose this pipeline project because of the negative impact it will have on our land, water and future generations.

In 2005, Kinder Morgan doubled the crude oil going through the Trans Mountain pipeline to 300,000 barrels daily, and now seeks to twin their pipelines in order to increase this capacity to 890,000 barrels daily. Each barrel going through these pipelines is a potential spill. Kinder Morgan admits on their website to having 78 spills in 51 years, most taking place at their pump stations or terminals. Still the 2 leaks that occurred this past June near Merritt BC and Hope BC, raise questions about how sound the current 60 year old Trans Mountain Pipelines are.

Recently Kinder Morgan has approached the Lower Nicola Indian Band and Coldwater Indian Band for negotiations on this project. The Trans Mountain pipeline doesn’t go through reserve land, it goes through unceded Nlaka’Pamux territory. Our territory is much bigger than government assigned reserve land. In our history, we were put on reserves to displace us from our land, so that the rest of our territory could be exploited for it’s “resources”. Band and tribal councils were created to entrench Canadian government control over how we govern ourselves. We went from being independent people who lived on our land, to becoming complacent and dependent. Band and tribal councils play a legitimate role in administering government funds for social programming like education and housing. However, they do not have any legal authority to make land deals for economic profit. Worse, band and tribal councils making land deals with corporations and the government is a serious conflict of interest because of their near complete dependency on government funding and dollars from resource extraction projects on our territory.

We haven’t signed any treaties, and possess our entire traditional territory. The Nlaka’Pamux Nation is us, and we’re a sovereign Nation, and are the legitimate government over our territory and people. In one very important way, many Nlaka’Pamux people continue to exercise their true rights when they leave their reserves to travel throughout our territory to hunt, fish and gather. We need to take further steps and actively rely on our land, take care of our land, and to stop using our land as a bargaining chip for financial gain. Because once it’s polluted, and there isn’t anything left to destroy in the name of profit, we won’t be seeing those dollars anymore. In the long run, living on our land in a respectful manner is our safest bet for survival.

We also need to keep in mind other people in the world. This pipeline supports the Tar Sands which is one of the worlds biggest polluters and is a death sentence to the land of the Cree, Dene, and Metis people. This monster project displaced them from their trap lines, displacing their caribou herds, and is literally killing the people themselves from the pollution in their drinking water in the communities downstream. The Nations on the coast are also opposing this development project because it’ll greatly increase the amount of oil tankers in Burrard Inlet, increasing the risk of oil spills. Every Nation the Trans Mountain pipeline cuts through, also face the same risks we do.

Lastly, many of our people are currently employed in the Tar Sands. The jobs won’t last, but the damage the Tar Sands and pipelines will cause will be there forever. Please stand up against the twinning of the Trans Mountain pipelines.

All My Relations.
Billie Pierre

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