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Lopping off the snake's head: Photos from 'End of the Line' march

by Miles Howe

RED HEAD, NEW BRUNSWICK -- UNCEDED WOLUSTUK TERRITORY -- On May 30th, 2015, about 400 marchers descended upon the community of Red Head, on the outskirts of Saint John, New Brunswick. The protest march, dubbed 'End of the Line', was a public push back against the industrial machinations of TransCanada Corporation and Irving Oil, who have set their sites on the immediate vicinity. Plans for the quiet, relatively rural community include a 183 hectare marine terminal complex and a 150 hectare tank farm, with a holding capacity of 7.6 million barrels of oil and heated bitumen. Super-tanker traffic will increase exponentially. This is the dreamt of 'end of the line' for TransCanada's 1.1 million barrel-a-day, Alberta Tar Sands-sourced, pipeline.

To borrow imagery from Wolustuk prophesy, this is what the head of the black snake would look like.

So far, resistance to other proposed Tar Sands pipelines have garnered hard-fought 'wins'. The 'Northern Gateway' and 'Keystone XL' proposals have met with organized opposition, which, to generalize, have made allies out of settler and Indigenous activists. Whereas settlers, again to generalize, have the numbers, the money, and the access to levels of governmental decision-making that come with money, grassroots Indigenous activists have the binding treaties and titles to the territories through which these pipelines wish to pass.

This cross-cultural style of alliance was also on display at the 'End of the Line' march at Red Head, where Wolustuk drummers – those with the 'title' - led the march with traditional songs. At Anthony's Cove, the end of the march and the site of the proposed tank farm, a stirring ceremony involved Mi'kmaq paddlers coming out of the fog in sea-worthy canoes, the lighting of a sacred fire, and the sharing of pipes.

“It's amazing to live in Red Head, actually,” said local resident and march co-organizer, Leanne Sutton. “Along the line, TransCanada is already being beaten back. Realizing that Red Head really doesn't want this in their backyard is just adding to this.”

Although blanketed by a thick fog during the march, masking their presence, the community of Red Head is already flanked by Irving Oil industrial mega-projects. Just to the north, sits Canada's largest oil refinery. To the south sits the 'Canaport LNG' import facility, which is currently in the application process towards retrofitting for export purposes. According to independent researcher Inka Milewski, speaking to the New Brunswick Media Co-op's Tracy Glynn, industrial pollution levels in Saint John are already “38 times the industrial pollution released in Fredericton and 243 times the amount released in Moncton.”

“You could ask some New Brunswickers and they'd say we're Irving owned and operated and Irving fed,” says Sutton. “Irving is very big in New Brunswick. Huge. And most of the political decisions are based on what's beneficial to Irving.”

Please enjoy photos from the May 30th 'End of the Line' march. For an excellent summary of the environmental threats that the 'Energy East' proposed pipeline poses to the immediate vicinity, check out Mark D'arcy's article here.

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