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The resistance to TMX pipeline expansion will be quilted

Miranda Dick goes through dozens of quilt squares sent to her for the ‘Clean Water Quilt,’ a creative act of resistance.
Image Credit: Kelsie Kilawna, Local Journalism Initiative
February 20, 2021 - 6:30 AM

Miranda Dick, a Secwepemc Matriarch, is creating an eight-foot long quilt, infusing her prayers for the protection of land and waters in a creative act of resistance against the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project (TMX).

Dick has been resisting the pipeline in accordance with her duty as a Secwepemc Matriarch, which is an inherent responsibility, she says. She lives the resistance in various avenues of her life, including ongoing monitoring of the pipeline’s progress, filming a movie, organizing and most recently, through quilting.

“Our family has been in the resistance for so long, if your family is affected by it and you’re not taking part in any form of resistance then what are you doing?” Dick asks. “Peaceful protest is prayer, it’s drumming and singing. We’ve done art, a run for clean water, we try and do different things, roadblocks, all these different layers of what being Indigenous looks like.”

In Tk’emlúps (Kamloops) on Oct. 17, 2020, Dick cut her hair off as another form of peaceful protest, and an act of grieving for the lands, waters and future generations, she says. During her ceremony, she was charged with civil contempt of a court-ordered injunction issued by Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC. The group of eight (including Dick) had charges moved and will be seen for a second appearance in the Kamloops Courthouse on March 1, for “civil contempt of the court order.”

“The resistance looks different for everyone,” Dick says, explaining how one of the arrestees told her “I’m just a soccer mom.” But they are connected in their concern for the wellbeing of the environment, she explains.

“The marking of the line in our territory, that for me, was just-no,” Dick says. “We’re still stopping this pipeline and banning together with our friends and family who believe in protecting clean water.”

The federal government-owned TMX pipeline expansion is intended to twin the existing 1,500 kilometre Trans Mountain pipeline, tripling the amount of bitumen and other petroleum products from Alberta to Burnaby.

Dick has remained firm in her resistance to the project which would have detrimental effects on Secwepemc territories, she says. She’s not alone, several First Nations communities and environmental groups have continuously opposed the project and the proponent’s controversial consultation process with those most affected by its construction. 

Currently, the government continues to engage in discussions with more than 120 Indigenous groups around potential future ownership and other economic participation related to the project.

‘We don’t acknowledge that they have assumed jurisdiction over us’

Dick sits at her kitchen table organizing her mail as she explains how the injunction that blanketed several nations throughout the pipeline corridor means the government believes they have “assumed jurisdiction” over several nations in the pipeline’s path. 

The pipeline threatens important waterways, and aquifers, while also compromising life depending on the Thompson River, Dick explains.

As a Secwepemc Matriarch, Dick says it’s her responsibility to protect that life and that a court injunction will not stop their efforts.

“The reason we don't bring the court injunction into any of our discussions or anything like that, is because they don’t have any jurisdiction over any Secwepemc territory,” says Dick plainly.

Dick who self-represents when going to court, as a sovereign member of her nation, says she often finds herself reminding the Crown that, “blanket court injunction is only assumed jurisdiction over other peoples’ territories,” she explains.

That 'assumed jurisdiction' Dick says, is done through a blanketed court injunction over the entire TMX corridor where the government “assumes jurisdiction.”

“Assuming that you don’t have a government structure, you don’t have a matrilineal structure or a Nation, is wrong,” she says.“That assumption of them asserting themselves over you is wrong — ignoring all of our natural laws and our rights as a sovereign.”

Miranda Dick opens envelopes filled with handcrafted quilt squares that also contain a special note.
Miranda Dick opens envelopes filled with handcrafted quilt squares that also contain a special note.
Image Credit: Kelsie Kilawna, Local Journalism Initiative

As the conversation shifts to the Clean Water quilt, Dick’s face lightens up as she talks about her lifelong passion for the art of quilting — an art form she now teaches to interested classes and individuals. 

“I’ve been a quilter my whole life, my mom was a quilter,” says Dick as she opens envelopes sent from all over the country containing a hand-crafted stack of quilt square.

Whats Next

Following her court date on March 1 in Kamloops, Dick will begin the first day of shooting a movie that aims to visit various “Indigenous resistance communities we know whose voices aren’t being heard,” she says. 

In an attempt to be safe and environmentally conscious, the group has gotten, “a big bus with beds, a wood stove, run on veggie oil,” Dick explains. “We’ll be travelling in that, so we won’t need to get a hotel room.”

This project was made possible through a GoFundMe that explains the project is meant to focus on amplifying Indigenous voices.

“Visual storytelling is very important. We can not trust the media to centre Indigenous voices on the frontlines. Mainstream media have proven time and time again that they work within the same colonial system used to oppress Indigenous people,” the page explains.

“Support Secwepemc Land Defenders in telling their story and stop the TMX pipeline.”

Dick will stay busy, working on the film project, the quilt, and reminding Canada that “our territory has never been signed, surrendered, or ceded and so we don’t acknowledge…[your] assumed jurisdiction over us,” she says.

— This story was originally published by The Discourse.

News from © iNFOnews, 2021

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