A group of activists held a solidarity walk Sunday in Edmonton, to show support for the Standing Rock Sioux Nation as they fight to stop a pipeline under construction.
The community is upset because they feel the construction is happening on sacred land in North Dakota and fear it could contaminate nearby water sources.
“It’s time for change and time that we make a stand for our water and our earth and our air,” co-organizer Barbara Dumigan said. “It’s not going to last forever.”
About 150 people took part in the rally, which started with a prayer from a local elder and continued with traditional drumming, song and dance.
The Dakota Access pipeline is set to run nearly 2,000 kilometres through four American states to carry oil from North Dakota to Illinois.
“It’s going to affect the water, all the animals, all the birds and everything that lives,” said Janice Randhile, another local event organizer.
The group’s Facebook event said “we cannot make it to Standing Rock physically but we can still raise awareness for our indigenous brothers and sisters in Standing Rock Sioux Nation locally, we stand in solidarity for all indigenous and non indigenous people who fight to preserve and protect their water, land, and the future of their children.”
The Standing Rock Sioux Nation and other groups have been trying to push out construction equipment and put a freeze on the project to redirect the pipeline away from sensitive areas.
“They’re standing up for their land, for their sacred burial grounds and they’re standing up against the pipeline that is being built,” Dumigan said.
They also worry oil spills or leaks could have lasting impacts on the water supply.
“It’s needed by everybody,” Randhile said. “We all need it to drink and so it affects everybody if we don’t have clean water.”
Organizers say everyone should be concerned about the environmental impacts of pipelines, not just First Nations communities.
Alberta, for example, has had an average of two crude oil spills a day, every day for the past 37 years. That’s 28,666 spills.
“It’s not just what’s happening in North Dakota. It’s what’s happening right now worldwide. A lot of our rivers, lakes and oceans are being polluted by oil companies and other pipelines,” Dumigan explained.
Through peaceful song and dance, the diverse crowd hoped to raise awareness about the dangers of transporting oil across borders.
“It’s important to be here just to have unity; to support them in what they’re doing. I believe water is life, I believe in the trees,” supporter Mitchell Tourangeau said.
“We’re destroying so much of what keeps us alive.”
“It’s time. It’s time to start listening to what earth is doing and all the natural catastrophes that are happening. It’s not by coincidence. It can’t sustain what we’re doing anymore.”
The event was open to everyone and organizers encouraged attendees to be peaceful – using prayers and positive energy to get the message across.
The event started at 1 p.m. at the Alberta legislature.
Watch Below: Sun, Sep 11: What do to about pipelines in this country? It’s the never ending debate. Here’s your West Block primer on the politics of pipelines in this country.