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Response from Tim: Kinder Morgan protest

posted 2 May 2018, 08:09 by June Miller, MCA Communications
Indigenous-Settler Relations:
a response from Tim Wiebe-Neufeld
Executive Minister, MCA

On April 20th, Steve Heinrichs, Mennonite Church Canada’s Indigenous-Settler Relations coordinator, took part in a protest at the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline project on Burnaby Mountain. Steve refused to leave the protest line when asked to do so by police, leading to his arrest.  Steve is clear that he did not do this action on behalf of Mennonite Church Canada.  He did this in solidarity with Indigenous brothers and sisters who are also being arrested for blocking progress on this pipeline expansion project. The Canadian Mennonite magazine has an online article with more information.

In recent weeks the debate over the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline project has escalated and become ever-more polarized. The various perspectives expressed show how such projects are complex, involving issues surrounding indigenous-settler relations, care for creation, and economic interests that have wide-ranging impact. While the passionate response from various sides of this debate are understandable, I wonder how we as a peace church can speak into this situation. I admit that as an Albertan I find myself reacting to the opposition from the BC government to a pipeline tied so heavily to Alberta’s economic interests. At the same time, I share concerns about caring for creation and our relationship with indigenous communities. As a larger Mennonite church, we have repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery, sought ways to live into the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and looked to respond to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

It seems to me that further polarization is not going to help solve the Kinder Morgan impasse. As a church and as individuals seeking to be followers of Christ, I pray that we may find ways for peaceful engagement with this pipeline conversation and the issues it raises. I pray that we as a church may encourage the movement toward resolution involving dialogue with indigenous communities, all levels of government, industry leaders, and other stakeholders. I pray that we may move from “us/them” to “we”, seeking a resolution together.