Photo by John Boivin, Castlegar News

On Friday, Valentine’s Day, my family and I took part in the march to remember missing and murdered Aboriginal women, two-spirited people, and girls in Castlegar. It was extra emotional for me this year as I reflected on the raids and arrests of the women in the Wet’suwet’en territory in northern BC and the solidarity actions taking place across the country.

We stood outside the RCMP building in downtown Castlegar in a circle for a couple of minutes blocking traffic, which of course is disruptive, and that was the point – to bring attention to the ongoing epidemic of Aboriginal women being murdered and going missing. As we stood in the circle, a few cars started honking and some drivers yelled. One of the Indigenous people held up their drum above their head and faced the honking cars, in the photo above. That moment brought me to tears. Despite all the years of violence, pain and suffering, Indigenous people are still here on their traditional territories and still struggling to exist. That gesture showed me the power and resilience that continues. One of the Indigenous people had a hat on with the words “still here.” Those two words say so much more.

We need to transition to 100% renewable and clean energy to stop the pollution and waste. Having another pipeline built through northern BC gets us further away from a clean energy future. It sets us back.

Just imagine what could be if instead of investing these billions of public tax dollars into big oil pipelines we invested it in clean energy projects. Instead of buying pipelines and spending money on surveillance and violent raids of Indigenous peoples’ camps, our tax dollars would go into solar, wind, and geothermal clean energy development and make sure there was clean water in all Indigenous communities. We could create enormous opportunity and build the base of the future we want for ourselves and our children.

I’m deeply grateful to the Indigenous people on the front lines of big oil and gas developments. If you want to support the Wet’suwet’en in defending a healthier and cleaner future you can support their legal fund (scroll to the bottom of the page to donate if you are on a phone) and join a solidarity action near you.

My two year old joined my husband and I at the march to remember missing and murdered Aboriginal women, two-spirited people, and girls. They sat quietly listening to the songs and drumming while holding a red ribbon. It’s a lot for a child to take in. It’s going to take every one of all ages to build a better, safer, and healthier future, so let’s join together and get to work today.

Read updates from Wet’suwet’en territory

Read coverage of the march in Castlegar

Read coverage of the bank sit-in in Nelson

Montana Burgess is the Executive Director of West Kootenay EcoSociety