Sacred Earth Solar
Indigenous women in rural British Columbia and Alberta are concerned about the expected increase in violence against vulnerable community members such as women, girls and two-spirit people due to new worker camps being set up for the Trans Mountain pipeline. They are taking their message of concern today to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York City.
They are also demanding that Canada's Federal government ensure sexual violence associated with worker camps is addressed in the ongoing Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls inquiry, set to be released in early June.
"Indigenous women are worried that when construction starts on the Trans Mountain pipeline, women will suffer," said Melina Laboucan-Massimo, founder of Sacred Earth Solar, who is speaking at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. "Almost every Indigenous woman in these rural, isolated communities knows someone who has experience sexualized violence — when industrial worker camps are built near our communities, it only exacerbates the issue and the federal government needs to do something about it."
Kanahus Manuel of the Tiny House Warriors is actively monitoring and occupying her territory at Blue River, which has been proposed for a 1000-person "man camp" along the Trans Mountain pipeline route. Stockpile construction began last week just south of Blue River.
"The Trans Mountain pipeline is to pass directly through our land, threatening our water and our way of life and our women's safety," said Kanahus Manuel. "The risks are so great for us, imagine if this was your community, would you take the risk?"
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) data shows a 38 percent increase in sexual assaults during the first year of the construction phase of an industrial project. There is also an increase in addictions, overdoses, and sexually transmitted diseases, and underage sex work in areas where there is an increase in industrial traffic.
A 2016 report by Amnesty International found that "Indigenous women and girls suffer the highest rates of violence in Canada. Development of environmentally destructive projects like pipelines only heightens the risk."
Sacred Earth Solar and the Tiny House Warriors also today launched a campaign to raise awareness about the connection between increased violence against Indigenous women near the expansion of industrial extraction zones.
Video: "Violence against the earth begets violence against women"
For more information, please visit www.SacredEarth.Solar.