Patricia White, a North Shuswap grandmother, is escorted by RCMP for processing after being arrested in a protest of the expansion of the Kinder Morgan oil pipeline in Burnaby on March 24. (Photo contributed)

Grandmother takes stand on pipeline

North Shuswap woman gets arrested as part of her commitment to protecting the water, land and air.

Patricia White will be appearing in court in Vancouver on June 15.

The North Shuswap grandmother doesn’t look particularly nefarious, but she was one of about 60 people arrested on March 24 in Burnaby.

White was protesting the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline. To do so, she defied an injunction prohibiting people from being within five metres of a gate to Kinder Morgan terminals where the company’s equipment travels in and out.

Why does she feel strongly enough to be arrested?

“I’m a grandmother. I’ve been educating myself about the extraction industry in general, including the tar sands, which is where bitumen is coming from. There’s no need for it, we have clean energy technology, it goes through indigenous non-treaty lands, it doesn’t have their permission to go through their lands, it’s disrespectful in that way.”

She says the protest is being led by First Nations, as it should be, and the protesters are referred to as water protectors.

“Everybody doing it believes that we must protect the water, land and air.”

Related: Pipeline project protest planned

White also refers to company ‘man camps,’ which she says can hold 1,000 men within chain-link fenced areas in trailers, typically in remote areas where the pipeline is being built.

White contends they bring sex assaults, drugs and alcohol, but don’t bring any of the promised financial benefits to the communities.

She’s generally opposed to all extraction industry that’s going ahead without any consultation with the people in the areas that it’s affecting.

“I don’t see these extraction industries are really benefiting the local populations; they seem to be benefiting already-rich corporations. And I’m opposed to our RCMP being paid to protect a private company instead of the people.”

“I could go on and on,” she says. “There are so many variations on this theme that have to do with the Site C dam, that have to do with fracking, that have to do with clear-cut logging, that have to do with polluting our Shuswap Lake, you know. We really, really have to slow down and get sensible about the way we’re approaching the future.

“Our kids – there are so many children now with illnesses that we didn’t see when my children were little. They have all kinds of allergies and diabetes and cancer. They’re just not healthy anymore the way children used to be. This is the reality. All these ideas that we’re supposed to run for the cure or look for the cure. All of this is just such backward thinking because we have to remove the cause. And the cause is our environment being so poisoned.”

Related: Trans Mountain granted injunction against pipeline protesters at two B.C. sites

White describes herself as an activist and explains she was contacted via email with a request for support.

She says the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, together with organizations such as the Dogwood Initiative, Greenpeace, 350.org and Stand.earth used their combined mailing lists to ask if anyone would be willing to occupy the area in front of the gate, as part of the ongoing movement to stop the pipeline.

White communicated her willingness and a date she could attend – and away she went.

She says everything was extremely well-organized, with people being set up to attend on specific dates according to whether they were First Nations, youths, senior citizens, and other groupings.

When they arrived, they were given a two-hour training session and given clear instructions on how to proceed with the occupation.

“The whole point of it was non-violence,” she says. “And they gave us an indication of what to do if anyone else was acting violently.”

At the end of the training, organizers asked people to think about whether they would be willing to be arrested. People were eventually separated into those who thought they would be willing and those who wouldn’t, she says, emphasizing that people were given the option to back out right to the end.

Then they were put into lines of 10, with those who were willing to be arrested right in front of the gates and those who weren’t, behind the five-metre mark.

“It was snowing like crazy, very wet snow coming down, and freezing cold. Nobody stopped, everybody was completely committed on their own.

White says the organizers were very considerate, asking the seniors if they wanted to be arrested first so they wouldn’t have to stand out in the snow. White liked that idea, and was in the second line of people who were arrested.

Related: RCMP moved to arrest pipeline protesters at entrance to Trans Mountain work site

She said the RCMP were also thoughtful, first reading the lengthy injunction and then asking each individual if, now that they completely understood the document, did they still want to be arrested? If they didn’t, they had the option to leave.

“Being arrested was definitely a choice – are you willing to break the law to protect the water.”

When it was her turn, White was walked down to where the RCMP had set up white tents to process everyone.

“I was surrounded by four large RCMP, which I thought was a waste of taxpayers’ money. Because I went willingly, I don’t think they needed that amount of enforcement.”

White signed papers, showed ID, was given a court date and released.

Asked about the accusation that people’s opposition to the pipeline is being sparked by large U.S. based environmental organizations, she uses her first expletive.

“That is just such crap,” she says, emphasizing she didn’t meet anyone who wasn’t personally committed.

“This is a real individual thing. I just feel compelled and so I do.”

White has been asked about her non-stop activism – what if she doesn’t win?

“I say, you know what, I win every day because I try. When I go to bed at night I know I did something to try, so I won.”


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Open burning permitted again in Kamloops Fire Centre

Low fire rating prompts decision throughout Kamloops Fire Centre

B.C. Rural Party co-founder rebukes pro-NDP accusation

Telkwa Mayor Darcy Repen disputes being NDP campaign supporter

Incumbent trustee candidate reassesses SOGI 123 impact

Lee-Ann Tiede says mandated student inclusiveness program has some issues

Lake Country Chamber of Commerce to host All Candidates Forum

Residents are being asked to submit questions to be asked

Kelowna-Lake Country Liberal MP acclaimed for his party’s nomination

Stephen Fuhr runs unopposed as the party’s standard-bearer for the next federal election

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

Kim agrees to dismantle main nuke site if US takes steps too

Kim promised to accept international inspectors to monitor the closing of a key missile test site and launch pad and to visit Seoul soon.

Dozens speak at Vancouver hearing that could see duplexes replace single homes

The city clerk says 73 people signed up to speak at the hearing that began early Tuesday evening and adjourned hours later with 34 speakers still waiting.

North Carolina gov pleads with storm evacuees to be patient

The death toll rose to at least 37 in three states Tuesday, with 27 fatalities in North Carolina.

North and South Korea say they plan bid for 2032 Olympics

Moon and Kim announced a sweeping set of agreements including a vow to work together to host the Summer Olympics in 2032.

Russia’s reinstatement after doping scandal goes to a vote

The World Anti-Doping Agency is due to vote Thursday Sept. 20, 2018, on possible reinstatement of Russia.

Ontario wins stay on ruling that struck down council-cutting plan

The province had argued the stay was necessary to eliminate uncertainty surrounding the Oct. 22 vote, and the Court of Appeal agreed.

B.C. cannabis producer Tilray hits at $20-billion high as stock price explodes

This is the first export of a cannabis product from a Canadian company to the U.S.

NDP tax increases adding up for B.C. residents: study

Carole James says Fraser Institute analysis ignores tax relief

Most Read