Freedom Train--Winnipeg Stop
May 7th, 2012
The Yinka Dene Alliance (YDA) Freedom Train just left Winnipeg, on the final leg of the journey to the Enbridge shareholder’s meeting in Toronto, which takes place on Wednesday, May 9th. Despite an exhausting travel schedule, spirits on the train are high, bolstered by the incredible support and honour received at each stop.
At events along the Freedom Train route, and online through YDA’s petition, thousands of Canadians are standing in solidarity behind the Yinka Dene Alliance as they assert their traditional laws banning Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipelines and tankers project.
At the Saskatoon train station, almost 200 local supporters assembled early in the morning on the platform to meet the Freedom Train for a whistle-stop rally. Local First Nations people honoured us with their songs and dances. Someone gave us garden-fresh vegetables and homemade jam to take on the train.
When we arrived in Winnipeg, the train station thundered with the drums of local First Nations people who came to welcome the Freedom Train. In the next days at a feast and water ceremony, local First Nations elders spoke of the damage to the rivers on their territories and pledged their support to the Yinka Dene as they fight to defend their waters.
The Freedom Train is an historic event, the start of a powerful new chapter in the fight to protect our environment from dirty oil. It is bringing together First Nations across the country to assert that indigenous peoples can no longer be ignored in decisions that impact their territories. It is uniting Canadians of all backgrounds, reminding us that we are all connected through water. As Chief Na’Moks of the Wet’suwet’en Nation put it, it is “joining Canada as one again.”
With the federal Conservative government hell-bent on pushing the Enbridge pipelines through at any cost, standing together and speaking out is the only way we can win. Chief Na’Moks called everyone to action at the Winnipeg feast:
“Industry and government are running roughshod over you. Raise your voice. Have a voice. Be Counted. You are a human being. Human beings need water, we need land, we need culture, we need communication. We are not living in isolation. Our voices are not to be silenced…Last words: raise your voice, be united, have a heart, have a soul, look into each other’s eyes. Have a heart, have a soul, and know that your voice matters.”
Taking on big oil and the Conservative government is no small feat, but when we stand together we are powerful. In the three years I’ve been working to stop Enbridge’s pipeline and tanker project, I’ve never felt more confident that we will win.