2016 Tsleil Waututh First Nation – Vancouver, British Columbia

TUESDAY, AUGUST 23RD – TOTEM POLE JOURNEY BLESSING
TPJ Vancouver snapshot

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While the City of Vancouver strives to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050, fossil fuel companies continue to propose new terminals to export coal and oil from Vancouver’s ports to foreign markets. The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, for example, would transport 890,000 barrels of tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to the Pacific Coast for export. The pipeline would result in seven times more oil tanker traffic in the Salish Sea, significantly increasing the likelihood of an oil spill that would be catastrophic to the Coast’s marine life. The current Trans Mountain pipeline has a history of oil spills, as four major spills have occurred since 2005. Sea and shorebirds, marine mammals, and endangered orca whales would be put at risk by the construction of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline. An oil spill from the Kinder Morgan pipeline would not only jeopardize the coastal waters due to tanker traffic, but the pipeline itself would make at least 80 water-crossings over the Fraser river, the largest single-salmon producing river on the North American Pacific Coast.

A proposed coal terminal in Surrey, BC also threatens to increase fossil fuel emissions and subsequent environmental damages in the region. Currently, about 80% of Canada’s coal exports are shipped through British Columbia, where the Westshore Terminal, Canada’s largest coal export facility, exports over 20 million metric tonnes per year. Fraser Surrey Docks is currently proposing an export terminal along the Fraser River in Surrey, BC, in order to export eight million metric tonnes of coal from the Powder River Basin to Asia. This proposed coal export facility would put communities along the rail line at risk for health issues due to coal dust, diesel particulate matter, and noise pollution. In addition, environmental consequences of the mining, transportation, and combustion of the coal are substantial and irreversible. While many other recent fossil fuel project proposals, such as the Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline, have been shot down recently, the fight is not yet over.

~Naomi Price-Lazarus, Stand.earth

Location:  Grandview Park, 1657 Charles Street and Commercial Street, Vancouver, British Columbia
Time:  5:30 pm


More videos, photos and more about this event can also be found on
Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust


By Fred Lane, Journey Videographer

One Heart, One Soul . . .
By Richard Jehn, Journey Chronicler

Totem Journey 2016 visited Vancouver on August 23, stopping at Grandview Park in east Vancouver at 5 pm. The ceremony was punctuated by fiery words and challenges to the world that we are in crisis and that we must come together, one heart, one soul, to stop and then repair the damage we do to Mother Earth. About 400 people were in attendance at the event hosted by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation.

Rueben George challenged the entire audience and beyond to continue their judicious work to stop the Kinder-Morgan pipeline, as well as to join with the greater effort to protect Mother Earth and to end fossil fuel extraction activities that are so severely damaging our planet. Tsleil-Waututh environmental lawyer, Eugene Kung, spoke about all the work he has done to bring the legal challenges for the Enbridge and Kinder-Morgan pipelines.

Doug and Jewell James sang their song of the whale, Aich Shwalowem Siem, and then Jewell provided the audience with the most inspired and spiritual address about our sacred responsibility to the Earth.

Environmental activist Ben West had some encouraging words about the work to stop the Kinder-Morgan pipeline, which included a clear explanation of the origins of the company. He termed them “Enron in BC.”

Vancouver City Council member, Andrea Reimer, came as representative of Mayor Gregor Robertson. She told of all the city of Vancouver has accomplished to reduce waste, reduce water usage, and reduce fossil fuel use in the past 7 years since the city committed to be the greenest city by 2020. And she was clear that the Kinder-Morgan pipeline project would wipe out all of the progress the city has made.

Chief Phil Lane, Jr., Hereditary Chief of the White Swan Dakotas, continued the inspired words to action for us all. At the close of his powerful words for action in the fight for the environment, he urged us to remember that we are all sacred and we must all be treated and respected as sacred.

Actor Dwayne Howard, from Nuu-Cha-Nulth First Nation, spoke about his desire for greater spirituality to help us all with reconnecting to Mother Earth and to the Creator.

Cedar Parker of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation represented with his words as a teenager who faces the serious challenges that our use of fossil fuels is leaving for his generation.

The event culminated in a drum circle that continued for an hour as participants came to touch the pole and share their blessings and prayers with the pole and each other. It was a profoundly moving event with intense memories that will last a lifetime for anyone who attended. And the event inspired many to take action to ensure a future for their grandchildren and their grandchildren’s grandchildren.

Our deepest thanks to all who attended and for all you are doing in this struggle for our future.


Vancouver resident and Hereditary Chief Phil Lane of the Yankton Sioux discusses the ongoing struggle against fossil fuel transport and export plans in British Columbia on the drive with Jewell “Praying Wolf” James to the Vancouver blessing ceremony of the 2016 Lummi Totem Pole Journey.

Chief Phil Lane talks BC fossil fuel projects at the Vancouver Blessing
By Matt Fuller, Journey Social Media Specialist

Jewell James Speaks Before the Vancouver Blessing
By Matt Fuller, Journey Social Media Specialist

Master carver Jewell “Praying Wolf” James speaks for a few minutes before heading over to the Vancouver blessing ceremony at Grandview Park.


By Paul Anderson, Journey Photographer