Indigenous leaders and elders held a ceremony to pray for the safety of the salmon, ecosystems and cultural heritage of the Fraser River on May 29.
According to Coast Protectors, a group hosted by the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), federal Crown corporation Trans Mountain plans to drill a 1.2 meter-diameter borehole in order to put a pipeline under the Fraser River at Port Mann Bridge. The pipeline would emerge on the north side of the bridge at Colony Farm, a Metro Vancouver regional park.
Kukpi7 (Chief) Judy Wilson, one of the matriarchs who held the ceremony and executive board member of the UBCIC, said that any leak or spill at any time from the pipeline would be devastating to wild salmon, whose populations are already stressed to the brink.
“Wild salmon is also life for our Nations and the bedrock of the coastal ecosystem,” said Wilson. “…Canada is gambling the Fraser River to squeeze a few more dollars out of the tar sands.”
Mark Point, chief of the Skowkale First Nation, one of the communities of the Stó:lō Nation, said Stó:lō are “the river people.” He said the Fraser River and the life it sustains are at the heart of Stó:lō culture. Point said that the May 29 ceremony is part of a sacred responsibility to defend the land and water.
“Threats to the river’s health and to our fishing grounds are threats to the wellbeing of our people.” said Point.