Natives, allies protest Chase Bank’s investing in Canadian pipeline

Posted 2/12/20

Roughly two dozen members of the self-proclaimed Protectors of the Salish Sea and their allies weathered the downpour during the afternoon of Feb. 5 to march from the Rosewind Common House to Chase Bank on Kearney Street to show their support for a fellow First Nation group.

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Natives, allies protest Chase Bank’s investing in Canadian pipeline

Posted

Roughly two dozen members of the self-proclaimed Protectors of the Salish Sea and their allies weathered the downpour during the afternoon of Feb. 5 to march from the Rosewind Common House to Chase Bank on Kearney Street to show their support for a fellow First Nation group.

Paul Chiyokten Wagner of the Redmond-based Saanich First Nations and founder of the Protectors of the Salish Sea, led the group of natives and allies in speeches and protest songs outside the bank, as local law enforcement stood by silently.

The activists voiced solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en First Nation of British Columbia, which has spent more than a decade fighting the $6.2 billion TransCanada Coastal GasLink pipeline project in which JPMorgan Chase is the primary investor.

The protesters called upon Chase to divest itself from such fossil fuel usage out of consideration for vulnerable habitats and various species, as well as indigenous lands that both indigenous people and environmental organizations have expressed concerns would be harmed by the project.

Wagner did not respond to The Leader’s calls for comment as of press time, but Chiara D’Angelo, a community member who attended the event, was joined by her grandmother, tribal elder Fuswa Saluskin, in enduring the heavy rain to support those who have lent their support to others.

“The Wet’suwet’en have lived in their homelands since time immemorial,” D’Angelo said. “I was once privileged enough to sit with one of their leaders at a community event. They’re been fighting against colonization for a long time. They’ve stood up for First Nations all over British Columbia, so this is our time to stand with them.”

D’Angelo characterized the treatment the Wet’suwet’en have received from the Canadian government and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as “unacceptable” and amounting to “real human rights violations.”

“It’s up to non-natives to say, ‘Enough is enough,’ to listen to native leaders, and to shine a light on these injustices,” D’Angelo said.

Saluskin was primarily motivated by her concerns about climate change, especially given what she sees as the non-action of Gov. Jay Inslee on that issue after he made it the central plank of his presidential campaign platform.

“Climate change affects everything, from the salmon and orca to the bees and people,” Saluskin said. “The Wet’suwet’en people are being arrested for trying to protect their homeland, but everyone will be affected by this, until it gets to the point that our children can’t afford to drink clean water, because all the aquifers have been bought up.”

Saluskin criticized Chase for enabling what she sees as the unquenchable greed of oil companies.

“It’s wrong that they should have so much power over people,” Saluskin said. “People don’t matter to them, as long as they get their money. We were warned by the visionaries of the 1970s to prepare for this, but this is the worst I’ve ever seen it. There’s nothing humane about how they’re behaving. They’re attacking people like they were robots.”

After the Wet’suwet’en Nation evicted Coastal GasLink from their territories in British Columbia, The Canadian Press reported Jan. 7 that the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination had called for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other security and police to withdraw from Wet’suwet’en traditional lands.

On Jan. 8, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police stated: “We want to emphasize that we are impartial in this dispute and our priority is to facilitate a dialogue between the various stakeholders involved. We remain hopeful that these efforts will result in a resolution.”

Chase media relations person Darcy Donahoe-Wilmot responded to The Leader’s request for comment with the following statement:

“JPMorgan Chase has a long history of advancing environmentally sustainable solutions for clients and its own operations. Many companies today are taking significant steps to invest in lower-carbon fuels, such as renewables and natural gas, and promote efficiency, and we are leveraging our business expertise to help them achieve these goals. The issues surrounding climate change and the environment are complex, and we have sought to actively engage with a diverse set of stakeholders to understand their views. We firmly believe that balancing environmental and social issues with financial considerations is fundamental to sound risk management.”

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