November 29, 2016 7:50 pm
Updated: November 30, 2016 7:43 am

Sask. activist has ‘eyes opened’ at Standing Rock protest

WATCH ABOVE: The federal government has delivered a major announcement today, one that involves billions of dollars worth of pipeline replacement in Saskatchewan. It comes at a time when pipelines are front of mind of many people. As Blake Lough reports, some of that has to do with events taking place south of the border.

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A Saskatchewan woman said her life has been changed following multiple visits to North Dakota in support of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

Since the summer, hundreds of demonstrators from across North America have set up camp along the path of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, believing the project threatens drinking water.

READ MORE: Sheriff will continue to ‘enforce the law’ on Dakota Access pipeline protesters

Danna Henderson, from the Pasqua First Nation, said her first trip to Standing Rock in September was for her father.

Henderson's father wanted to witness the "revolution" in Standing Rock after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

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“In July, he got diagnosed with lung cancer. He was supposed to start radiation therapy. And he talked about Standing Rock,” Henderson said.

“My eyes were opened. That’s all I always say, my eyes were opened. I couldn’t keep my eyes closed.”

Henderson said prior to that trip, she was ignorant of the issues facing Standing Rock protesters.

“I was very ignorant before. I could [have] cared less about the environment. For it to impact me… we need to do something.”

Danna Henderson, from the Pasqua First Nation, with her son Daynyn at Standing Rock.

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In November, Henderson made a return trip — this time with donations and supplies for the protesters who now face two evacuation orders from both the state and the U.S. Army.

READ MORE: Dakota Access protest camp to be shut down by Army: Standing Rock chairman

The orders cite safety concerns due to the increasingly harsh winter weather in North Dakota. Henderson said she believes the demonstrators will be staying for the long haul despite the orders.

“They will stay there. The men [are] winterizing their tents. They’re actually insulating some of their teepees. Lumber was brought in, [and] plywood to make houses. They’re fully prepared to stay there,” she said.

Because of her experiences in Standing Rock, Henderson said she is much more aware of what is happening in her own backyard when it comes to water issues.

“That was one of the things when I came back, I’m like, ‘you know the Husky oil spill just happened. A quarter of a million litres of oil was spilt into our waterways. Why aren’t people doing anything?'”

FULL COVERAGE: North Saskatchewan River Husky oil spill

“The difference from up north to south was remarkable. They’re doing something down south, up here it’s not gaining momentum,” she said.

Henderson has now started her own organization on the Pasqua First Nation called “Keepers of the Water“, in an effort to drive the same kind of attention in Standing Rock to developments in her own province.

Developments in Saskatchewan

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed in a major announcement Tuesday that Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Project — which cuts straight through Saskatchewan on its way to Wisconsin– has been approved.

READ MORE: Justin Trudeau halts Northern Gateway, approves Kinder Morgan expansion, Line 3

The project will see nearly 1,700 kilometres of half-century-old pipeline replaced by an entirely new line about twice the current pipeline’s working capacity.

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