Environmental activism is more important now than ever before. Today we’ve traveled to Secwepemc land just outside of Kamloops in British Columbia to tell the story of some little houses that will be standing in the way of a big pipeline. Hi Kanahus! Hi. Pleasure to meet you. Nice to meet you too. It’s a hive of activity here, isn’t it? Yes! Can you tell me a little bit about what’s going on, why are you here right now? We are here building the first tiny house of ten, we’re planning on building ten tiny houses to be placed right in the direct path of the Trans Mountain Kinder Morgan Pipeline, proposing to go through our indigenous, traditional territory’s and homelands, 518km of this pipeline proposes to cross our lands, so in order to stop it we’re going to live in tiny houses on the pipeline route.
Tiny House Warriors Building Tiny Homes To Defend Against Oil Pipeline Photo Gallery
This pipeline is proposing to bring tar sands, bitumen from the Alberta tar sands all the way to the Sailer Sea, all the way to Vancouver and pop into the global markets and they need to go through our lands in order for it to get to Vancouver but what we’re saying is that this fossil fuel industry is just going to increase all the impacts of climate change that we’re facing today and we can’t have the Alberta tar sands increase and we can’t have this pipeline going through and it’s really to protect our water and our land and our traditional foods and our children’s future. So this pipeline project, it’s predominantly an environmental concern for you, right? It’s an indigenous, Secwepemc concern. As Secwepemc people we’ve been here for tens of thousands of years, we say since the beginning of time our people have mammoth tusks that are carved by our people, so we have been here, occupying and using this land for thousands and thousands of years and so we are the environment, like when we talk about being environmentalists, we are the environment because we’ve had such a close relationship with our land that we are a part of the land and what we say is that the blood and bones of our ancestors make up the land and this earth upon which we walk and that’s why we have to walk with such great respect and that’s why we need to defend our land from anything which is trying to really destroy it. The Imperial Metals Mount Polley mine disaster was a catastrophic mine disaster that happened three years ago that spilt hundreds and millions of toxic mine waste tailings and heavy metals and processing chemicals into Hazel Pine Creek that lead into Cornell Lake which is the deepest glacier-fed lake in the world and it crushed our nation, it happened in the heart of our nation and all of our waters were impacted all the way to the Fraser so we have seen first hand environmental disasters happen in our territory and we’re not about to risk this happening again. So for people out there who think it’s just a pipeline running through the land, what are the major thing’s that you’re worried about what does this pipeline put at risk? Our whole world. The Alberta tar sands is one of the worlds largest carbon bombs and by pushing through with the pipeline that’s going to only increase the size of the Alberta tar sands, it’s going to drastically impact all of us around the world we see what’s happening with our climate already and extremes that we’re seeing with our climate already it’s just going to make everything worse. So why did you choose tiny houses to make this stand? I was down at Standing Rock at the resistance against the North Dakota Access Pipeline and we saw the tiny houses going up in two or three days and so because of our time restraint with this construction of this pipeline coming through we wanted these tiny houses but also because our community really believes in alternative building and it’s something that our community has been discussing for a long time.
Our goal with these ten tiny houses is to be put strategically in the path of the pipeline but this is also creating an awakening within our nation for sustainable living, you know so our imprint on this land doesn’t increase but we really minimise our impact on the lands and that includes going small with our homes and our consumption. Also we want to be able to really have some of these tiny houses for cultural revival and language revival, language is really important and we’re not only loosing our land but we’re also loosing our language and our language is based on the land and being out there on the land, so language is a really key point but also reviving our traditional birth keeping practices and our traditional indigenous tattooing practices that we want to utilise these tiny houses to bring back and revive some of our culture which has been lost or threatened as well. So why tiny houses on wheels though? We choose to have the tiny houses on wheels for it to be mobile so we could be moving it around to different areas that are under attack and other threat by this construction of this pipeline cos’ it is a thousand kilometre pipeline and over half of that is within our territory so it’s a big geographical area and because being as a native person that has been in the land resistance fight for many years we’ve seen our houses being destroyed and bulldozed down, we’ve seen the provence come in with injunctions and trespass notices to say that we are illegally on our own territory, but this is the way we challenge them is we go out there and we continue to still do this. There has never been any formal agreement of us giving up our land to anybody so really the provincial government is just assuming that they have authority and control even though legally they have no legal binding and that’s why we’re saying we don’t give our consent for the pipeline to go through and we’re standing on the power that we have the collective right as indigenous people to say no to these projects. These tiny houses are standing with very big powerful force right now in our nation and it’s already created a lot of tension with politicians and the leaders here in B.C. and Canada but it’s going to even create more once we actually physically get these tiny houses moved right on the path of the pipeline.
And this is the very first one to be built right here, isn’t it? Yes. Can we have a look at what you’re doing? So like I said we put it on the trailer so it’s on an 18ft trailer. It was built out so it’s a little bit bigger than the actual trailer and it’s rodent proof so they put that metal in there so that’s one of the good things, it’s rodent proof. It was one of the women at Standing Rock that went to build some of the tiny houses there that had the original concept plan for the tiny house but because we brought volunteer builders from all around that this is their first time meeting each other and they didn’t build a tiny house but they’ve been carpenters for 30+ years and things like that so they have a lot of knowledge and came together and put this together for us and we’re so happy we’re going to be putting some more plywood on top of this and painting it so this whole house is going to be a mural. The murals will be stories of our people so we wanted to have a big salmon, a salmon because the salmon like I said is the keystone species, anything that happens to the salmon it’s going to impact us all. So what’s going on on the build here today. They’re putting the door in right now, so the door’s finally getting put in and this is like our house.
And so once the home’s completed what will actually be going inside here? We want to make this living space something really comfortable for people that are going to be out there ’cause they’re going to be more in isolated situation too because it’s going to be out on the territory so we want to have a comfortable living space and we’re going to be putting the composting toilet and all of that on the outside because the whole project is called ‘Tiny House Warriors, our land is home’, so also we’re having minimal amount of living and sleeping space but our land is our home so we want to beautify and make the outside living space just as well as we do our inside living space. We want to put some bunk beds in here, we’re going to have solar installation in here, people from the impacted tar sands communities have said they’re going to sponsor the first solar installation on the first tiny house so that’s something that we’re really looking forward to and probably going to install it right there on the pipeline route and put a tiny little wood stove in there and so that would be our cooking space as well for in the winter. People are already calling this the next Standing Rock, what do you say to that? There’s hundreds and thousands maybe even a million people that have been aware of what happened at Standing Rock and I believe that yes, this can be the next big Standing Rock and a lot of people that want to come and help , we want to ask them to come and help build these. You know, people that want to come and sit on the front lines, this is our frontline right now, is building tiny houses and being able to not just resist against something but also to create something really beautiful, to create hope and to create homes for people ’cause we have such a big housing crisis as indigenous people in our communities, people don’t have homes so this is going to be able to create some hope for our people and all too often we’re always there blocking, blocking, blocking but we want to be a solution, we want to be climate leaders we want to have solutions to the climate issue and we feel that this is one of them and by minimising our imprint on the earth and being able to live closer to the earth is a way that we can do it. So for people out there reading this right now who want to help, how can they help, what can they do, how do they get in touch with you? We have our ‘Tiny House Warriors’ Facebook page and that’s how everybody could get in contact with us right now. We are going to be putting another call out for builders to come for this whole duration of these other 9 tiny houses that we’re going to be building and for the mural and for the artists that want to come and help produce beautiful art to be put all around this tiny house and so ‘Tiny House Warriors’ Facebook page reach out to us, message us on that we are looking for donations and for volunteer support right now. With this tiny house I feel you’re going to be making a really big statement, I personally feel really proud and I’m very inspired to be here right at the very beginning, thank-you so much for sharing this all with me and the best of luck.
Thank-you. This land is beautiful, it’s abundant and it’s precious. Protecting our environment should be something that’s at the very forefront of all of our minds, our hearts and our actions in this world. To that end I’m so incredibly inspired by what I’m seeing here today and I feel very privileged to witness the very start of this movement