Hundreds welcome totem pole to Manitoba with anti-pipeline message
An aerial shot of the totem pole passing through Portage and Main in Winnipeg on Monday.
Published Monday, September 5, 2016 6:28PM CST
Last Updated Monday, September 5, 2016 6:52PM CST
Hundreds of people welcomed a massive, hand-carved totem pole to Manitoba on Sunday.
The totem pole travelled about 2,400 kilometres from the Lummi Nation in Washington State to Winnipeg over the last two weeks.
People marched and danced from The Forks to Circle of Life Thunderbird House on Main Sreet to celebrate the totem pole’s arrival.
Jewell James is from Lummi Nation. He carved the totem pole, working tirelessly on it from April until the day before it was loaded up for the journey to Manitoba.
“During 9-11 and Pennsylvania, New York, we have poles up in Washington D.C., two different sets there, so this is what we do, we try to draw attention to issues that are important to our first nations people," said James.
That current issue in Manitoba is the TransCanada Energy East Pipeline, proposed to cross the country.
Climate activists prepared for days in anticipation of totem pole's arrival, painting and silk-screening signs and banners with anti-pipeline messages.
Activists said, if built, a pipeline will jeopardize water safety.
“It’s not a question of if the pipeline will rupture, it's a question of when," said Clayton Thomas-Muller, a campaigner with 350.org.
The gift is part of a movement uniting people protesting against oil pipelines.
This week the totem pole passed through a pipeline protest in North Dakota, with supporters attending from as far away as British Columbia.
"We’re having people be so consistent saying no, so we have that in common, and we want to protect what we love, and what we care for. and that's Mother Earth," said Rueben George with Tsleil-Waututh Nation in British Columbia, who opposes a pipeline project by Kinder Morgan.
From Winnipeg, the totem pole will make one more trip about 120 km north, to its final home in Sagkeeng First Nation on Monday.