Open Letter to Justin Trudeau by Rita Wong, annie ross, Steve Collis and Cecily Nicholson (COAST - Clear Our Air: Stop TransMountain)

By Rita Wong, annie ross, Steve Collis and Cecily Nicholson (COAST - Clear Our Air: Stop TransMountain) 

Dear Justin Trudeau,

BC has been burning this summer, and you would throw gasoline on the flames by tripling the size of the Trans Mountain pipeline. It appears that either you have not been properly schooled about climate justice, or that you have been bought out by corporate interests that are pulling your government’s strings.

In the spirit of generosity, in case we are in the first scenario, we have compiled a climate primer that we urge you to read and consider seriously in light of our shared responsibilities to care for the land, the water, and each other. These responsibilities are held deeply in Indigenous laws that are guided by natural laws, and deserve the respect and action of each and every person who lives on Turtle Island.

We do not trust a colonial legal system that grants Kinder Morgan sweeping injunctions in a matter of days, while First Nations like the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations must wait for half a year to merely get an injunction hearing against the Site C dam, while their sacred places are being clearcut and desecrated by BC Hydro. This colonial system shows a distressing bias where rich corporations are able to get injunctions more frequently than small First Nations that are trying to protect and enforce Indigenous and natural laws.

Humans can learn to adapt and respond to natural cycles and rhythms; this is why we have leap years. The calendar adjusts itself to the orbit of the earth around the sun by adding a day every four years, instead of ignoring the gap that widens over time between our calendar and the natural cycle. This is one example of how humans need mechanisms to plan for cycles that are much larger and more powerful than what we can individually perceive. This story of the leap year gives rise to the name of the Leap Manifesto, which we have included in our primer, along with a summary of the Tsleil Waututh Environmental Assessment of the TransMountain Pipeline and Tanker Expansion Proposal, a warning letter signed by more than 15,000 scientists, Pope Francis’s encyclical letter, and the Save the Fraser Declaration.

We pledge our allegiance to the Indigenous peoples who remind us that we are relatives with all life, plants and animals, and that water and land are sacred. These are crucial teachings for our times. A good relative doesn’t poison and threaten the home that we all depend on, the earth.


Rita Wong, annie ross, Steve Collis and Cecily Nicholson

COAST: Clear Our Air: Stop TransMountain