Photo taken by Linda Roy of Irevaphotography Model: Water Warrior Autumn Peltier

UN Committee Blasts Canada, calling on country to “immediately cease construction” on Trans Mountain Pipeline until Indigenous consent is secured

In an unprecedented and unequivocal admonishment of Canada’s failure to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has called on the country to “immediately cease construction” of the Trans Mountain and Coastal Gaslink pipelines and the Site C hydro dam until the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous peoples is secured. 


The committee released its decision in early January 2020 in response to a submission by the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade (INET). INET documented how development has been authorized by British Columbia on Indigenous land in violation of Indigenous law, Canadian

constitutional law, and international law protecting Indigenous peoples’ rights, including the free, prior and informed consent to development affecting our lands, territories, and resources.


CERD is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by State parties, including Canada.


The committee urges the immediate end to the forced evictions of Secwepemc and Wet’suwet’en peoples and urges guarantees that no force will be used against Secwepemc and Wet’suwet’en peoples. Critically, CERD  urges the withdrawal of Royal Canadian Mounted Police and associated security and policing services from Secwepemc and Wet’suwet’en territories. 


The committee has also offered to provide technical assistance to the state from the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on implementing UNDRIP.


The Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade is an organization founded by the late Secwepemc leader Arthur Manuel of the Neskonlith Indian Band. Manuel was a champion of Indigenous rights on the international stage, including both human rights and trade forums. 

Tiny House Warriors reclaim land, block Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline route

11 July 2018 (UNCEDED SECWEPEMC TERRITORY / CLEARWATER) — On-the-ground resistance promised by the Tiny House Warriors almost a year ago has been launched, as Indigenous Land Defenders from the group reclaim an ancestral village and block the planned route of the Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline.


Three tiny houses, built over the past 10 months, have now been placed in the proposed pipeline’s path, as Secwepemc Land Defenders begin to re-establish an ancient village that once thrived on what is now the North Thompson River Provincial Park near Clearwater, British Columbia. Additional tiny houses will be constructed on the site, beginning today.


“Justin Trudeau has left us no choice. This pipeline violates our rights and endangers our lands and waters. To stop it, we’re reclaiming our ancestral village and bringing our traditions back to life. If Trudeau wants to build this pipeline, he will need to empty this village a second time; in doing so, he would make continued colonization and cultural genocide part of his legacy of so-called reconciliation. Trudeau may have agreed to purchase this pipeline to make sure it gets built, but we’re here to make sure that it doesn’t. This pipeline is unfundable and unbuildable. It’s time Trudeau and all potential financial backers of this pipeline realized that we will never allow it to destroy our home,” said Kanahus Manuel, a leader with the Tiny House Warriors, member of the Secwepemc Women Warriors, and traditional tattoo artist. [1]


The Tiny House Warriors are a group of Indigenous Secwepemc Land Defenders launched in September 2017. It operates under the authority of Secwepemc law to assert Secwepemc collective jurisdiction and title over their unceded territory. As stated in the Secwepemcul’ecw Assembly Declaration, the “Secwepemc collectively are the proper decision-making authority for Secwepemcul’ecw lands and waters,” not individual Indians bands, whose federally-delegated authority is limited to reserves, and who cannot provide the consent of the whole Nation.


According to the Tiny House Warriors, despite claims by the Canadian colonial government that the pipeline is in the country’s best interest, it is not in the best interests of the Secwepemc Nation, whose oral histories and archaeological evidence confirms that Secwepemc ancestors lived in the area since before the glaciers receded 10 thousand years ago. More than three dozen pit houses have sat on these lands, traditional dwellings of the Secwepemc people.


Secwepemc Land Defenders intend to resist construction on the North Thompson line of the Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline, which is expected to begin by the fall — including by re-establishing a permanent  village on land the pipeline is slated to go through without consent, and by tying red cloth all along the nearby highway to call attention to the danger of gender-based and sexual violence associated with pipeline construction “man camps.” [2]


The existing tiny houses are being used for traditional tattooing, housing and other cultural purposes, as part of the resurgence in Indigenous culture. This past weekend’s Nation-to-Nation traditional tattoo gathering was attended by Indigenous tattoo artists from across Turtle Island; artists from Indigenous communities in what are now known as B.C., Ontario, Quebec, Nunavut, and California attended, helping to revive this important part of Indigenous culture.


“The moment we mark ourselves with designs inspired by our ancestors, we are taking a stand against the destructive, genocidal, and assimilative forces that have been visited upon us by colonial Canadian governments since first contact. Our resistance and our tattoos are what true reconciliation looks like,” said Manuel.



[1] See Standing Rock of the North: An updated Summary Risk Assessment of the Trans

Mountain Pipeline Expansion

(and coverage in The Guardian here), which provides documentation of the financial risks posed by Indigenous jurisdictional challenges to the Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline, prepared by the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade.


[2] “Man camps” (temporary labour camps built to accommodate mostly male workers who would construct the pipeline) in Secwepemc territory, located nearby in Clearwater, are a source of deep concern to the community, which has issued a declaration against them. The pipeline route follows Highway 5, part of the network of highways connected with the Highway of Tears, on which numerous Indigenous women have gone missing or been found murdered.


For interviews, photos, access to the site and additional information, please contact:


Kanahus Manuel, 1-250-852-9002

Secwepemc Indigenous Women vow to shut down Kinder Morgan man camps amidst national MMIW inquiry

Media Contacts

Kanahus Manuel (Secwepemc Womens Warrior Society, Tiny House Warriors): 250-852-9002


Women’s Declaration Against Kinder Morgan Man Camps


Nov 30 event “Let's Send Kinder Morgan's President Packing”
Facebook Event Page

November 28, 2017, Unceded Secwepemc Territory - In the midst of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, violence against Indigenous women continues to be facilitated by Federal and British Columbia Governments.

Kinder Morgan is applying for a 1000-worker Blue River Campsite on 16 hectares of Secwepemc lands in the south-central interior of British Columbia. Man camps provide temporary housing to thousands of mostly non-Indigenous male workers in the resource sector. Reports show direct correlations between these encampments and violence against women.

Today the Secwepemc Women’s Warrior Society and the Tiny House Warriors issued a Women’s Declaration Against Kinder Morgan Man Camps.

The Declaration states, “We have never provided and will never provide our collective free, prior and informed consent - the minimal international standard - to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Project or the Kinder Morgan Man Camps.”

Representatives of the Secwepemc Nation will deliver the Women’s Declaration to Kinder Morgan CEO Ian Anderson on November 30 in Vancouver at a planned demonstration against the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Secwepemc women warrior Kanahus Manuel states, “The common thread here is Indigenous consent. We do not consent to Kinder Morgan building pipelines or man camps on our unceded territory where we hold Title. We stand together against any and all threats to our peoples, our women, our two-spirits, our children, our lands, the wildlife, the salmon, the waterways.”

Fifty prominent Indigenous women and organizations are supporting the Declaration including Idle No More, Indigenous Environmental Network, Families of Sisters in Spirit, No More Silence, Native Youth Sexual Health Network, Greenpeace, and Mi’kmaq Warrior Society.

Standing Rock of the North

The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Secwepemc Risk Assessment
Prepared by the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade

Executive Summary

This report lays out the flawed valuation that Kinder Morgan Canada has projected regarding the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP). The company has failed on multiple bases in crucial areas to account for the lack of political, legal, and proprietary certainty surrounding the pipeline.

Core to its misleading projection is Kinder Morgan’s claim to have secured the land base for the pipeline, which runs through 518 km of Secwepemc (pronounced Se-KWEP-muk) territory in the South-Central Interior of British Columbia (BC). Secwepemcul’ecw is the largest Indigenous territory across which the Kinder Morgan TMEP is proposed to travel. It is unceded land — that is, the proper title and rights holders are the Secwepemc people, according to both the Supreme Court of Canada and to the Indigenous laws of the territory — and the Secwepemc have rejected the TMEP in absolute terms.

In this report, we examine the historical, legal, economic, political, reputational, regulatory, and climate risks that undermine the valuations of both Kinder Morgan (KMI) and Kinder Morgan Canada (KML).

In Section 1, we examine Secwepemc land defense in the context of unwanted development that has encroached upon their lands. This history includes their involvement in armed standoffs, years-long blockades against development, and disruption at corporate mining offices concerning environmental impacts on their land.


When the federal government unilaterally approved the original Trans Mountain pipeline through Secwepemc territory in 1951, the local community was not legally in a position to oppose the development because the Indian Act prohibited Indigenous peoples in Canada from organizing on land issues and hiring lawyers. The original Trans Mountain pipeline went into operation in 1953 without the Secwepemc people’s consent. The Secwepemc are now determined that history will not repeat itself. At a recent assembly hosted on the territory they released a Secwepemc Declaration on Protecting Our Land & Water Against the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline, which stated:

“we hereby explicitly and irrevocably refuse its passage through our territory.”

In Section 2, we document the under-reporting of KMI’s legal exposure in relation to the TMEP. This legal risk poses serious obstacles for Kinder Morgan because the Secwepemc people retain territorial authority and the consent of the nation must be obtained for development to proceed. The Secwepemc maintain inherent land rights and Aboriginal Title to their land, which the Supreme Court of Canada recognizes as a collective right that is held by the nation.

The governments and Kinder Morgan failed to meet the most basic legal requirements with the Secwepemc people to discharge constitutional obligations. The legal risk to the company and to investors is that KMI have failed to engage with the Secwepemc collectively, as the proper title and rights holders, and therefore have not cleared access or proprietary interest to construct the pipeline.

Secwepemc assertions of jurisdiction will further be direct and material, intervening in the construction and development of the pipeline at every stage. Under Secwepemc law, the nation is obligated to protect their territory.

Canada is further bound by international obligations. Both the Canadian and the British Columbian governments have committed to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), meaning the consent of Indigenous Peoples to access to their lands and resources is required under the provision for Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC). International law has been an effective avenue for dispute resolution for the Secwepemc People. They have successfully asserted their indigenous proprietary interests at the international level, including before international trade tribunals that have accepted their submissions, recognizing the macro-economic dimension of Indigenous rights. Failure to recognize Indigenous proprietary interests results in increased economic and legal certainty.

In Section 3, we examine the economic risk that Secwepemc resistance will successfully stop the pipeline, eliminating an expected source of revenue needed to sustain and grow Kinder Morgan Canada Limited’s (KML) dividend.

We also examine the economic risk that Secwepemc resistance will make accessing capital more difficult and costly because Secwepemc assertions of jurisdiction will delay building efforts, increasing expenses, and lead to premium borrowing costs. We situate this risk within the broader pipeline divestment campaigns that are aimed at financial institutions and exerting increasingly effective pressure to divert capital from pipelines.

We find the economic risk of direct action by the Secwepemc to be of particular significance. The first of ten “Tiny Houses” has already been built to be placed along the proposed pipeline route. Directly addressing investors, a leader with the Tiny House Warriors and the Secwepemc Women Warrior’s Society, stated: “As we assert our legal rights and title, pipeline financiers will face tremendous pressure, greater risk and uncertainty. We advise major pipeline funders, including TD Canada and JPMorgan Chase, to get out of the pipeline business now.”

If the Canadian government makes good on their threat of militarized action against Indigenous land protectors, a growing coalition of civil society allies and Indigenous nations on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border are preparing for the fight. The spectre of a “Standing Rock of the North” looms large.

The financial risks associated with the pipeline stemming from commodity supply and demand, market volatility, capital access and corporate debt are magnified by the increased likelihood of conflict, delays and the possibility of outright cancellation that emerge from Secwepemc assertions of jurisdiction.

We also examine the substantive risks of the TMEP to the Secwepemc economy: the cumulative risk of environmental contamination, potential spills, loss of lands due to displacement, danger to women of proximity to “man camps,” and shrinking an already compromised land base.


In Section 4, we examine the substantial political risk of the TMEP. The current provincial government in British Columbia comprises two political parties that oppose the pipeline, recently joining a lawsuit against KMI, and vowing to use “every tool at our disposal” to stop the construction of TMEP.


When the governing parties partner with Indigenous peoples, as they have stated their intention to do, the political risk increases, in relation to approval delays, restrictions to permits, and right-of-ways. It will become more likely that the KML will be reject- ed at various points of provincial authorization.


In Section 5, we examine KMI’s reputational risk. Kinder Morgan Canada’s IPO prospectus acknowledges that Reputational Risk “cannot be managed in isolation from other forms of risk.” However, they do not connect reputational risk to the risks associated with Indigenous rights. Indigenous rights, the Alberta tar sands, climate change, and pipelines are all controversial, high profile, and divisive issues both in Canada and internationally. Kinder Morgan’s plan to build a pipeline that passes through Indigenous territory and through a densely populated city known globally for its environmental conscience puts the company at the centre of these conflicts. By doing so, it has become one of a handful of pipeline companies that are household names. This brings much greater scrutiny to all of its undertakings, whether or not they are related to Trans Mountain.

In Section 6, we look at uncertainties related to an ongoing review of federal environmental regulatory and assessment processes. This review is significant and should be a red flag to Kinder Morgan and to investors with respect to the economic viability of this expansion. The federal review covers all legislation affecting Indigenous peoples passed by the previous administration, including the National Energy Board and Environmental Assessment Acts that were instrumental to TMEP approval. Regulatory risk exists via the comprehensive federal review that calls into question the legitimacy (including constitutional legitimacy) and authority of the TMEP approval and related conditions.

Related regulatory uncertainties arise from the very strong likelihood that going forward:

  • Projects will be assessed broadly in relation to their climate impacts (especially CO2 emissions);

  • Impact assessments will play what the CEAA review panel called a “critical role” in supporting Canada’s efforts to address climate change, and;

  • Impact assessments will be cumulative and address the impacts of projects (such as pipelines) in relation to broader energy considerations (such as the decision to expand or restrict overall oil and gas production).


There are substantial risks related to proposed federal removal of the NEB as an “Authority” in oil and gas, including pipeline approvals, to be replaced by an independent quasi-judicial EA authority (housed within the Environmental Assessment Agency) to conduct all reviews and guide subsequent approvals processes. This change will likely make approvals for pipelines and oil and gas developments much less certain. This results in increased public scrutiny and vulnerability of the TMEP route approval process putting in question its legitimacy. The future role of Indigenous peoples, enhanced engagement with Indigenous rights and jurisdiction, and federal commitment to implement UNDRIP/FPIC in Environmental Assessments mean that it is likely that approvals processes will likely take longer, and that oil and gas proponents will need to expend significantly more resources, time, and energy making their case.


In Section 7, we examine how KMI fails to consider the climate risk of this undertaking, exposing investors to further financial risk. We consider how the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project depends on an expansionary pattern of crude oil flows from the tar sands in order to be profitable. Without this expansion, the pipeline will be devalued. The cost of tar sands expansion, however, will be borne by communities downstream to the tar sands and in the Athabasca region. The increase of global carbon emissions released by this expansion will contribute to the devastating impact of climate change to communities around the world.


Climate risk will manifest as both stranded assets of inaccessible, expensive oil production, and financial disclosure to global markets of the pipeline’s impact on cli- mate. For example, the global Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures developed a framework of voluntary recommendations designed to provide “consistent climate-related financial risk disclosures for use by companies in providing information to investors, lenders, insurers, and other stakeholders.” In response, Canadian security regulators pledged in March 2017 to undertake their own review of climate disclosure in Canada, which could have substantial effects on oil and gas infrastructure projects.

In conclusion, this risk assessment analyzes the implications of Secwepemc jurisdiction for Kinder Morgan’s valuation of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project. We undertake a comprehensive risk analysis of the investment stage and the operational stage of construction and offer solid evidence that the pipeline cannot be built without Indigenous consent. The Indigenous nations living along the proposed pipeline route have voiced their absolute opposition to the project.

To download the full report, click the PDF link above. 

Download the Report 

Download the Press Release

press to zoom

press to zoom

press to zoom

press to zoom

Historic Secwepemc Declaration against Kinder Morgan

From June 2-4, 2017, members of our Secwepemc nation hosted a Secwepemcul'ecw Assembly off-reserve on the land to take action under Secwepemc law against colonial corporate development impacting Secwepemcul'ecw.

We came together as Secwepemc collectively to affirm we are rightful Title holders and the decision-making authority for Secwepemcul’ecw lands and waters. Our gathering, like us, is free, sovereign and autonomous from any government, band, corporate, or NGO control. We are committed to upholding our collective and spiritual responsibility and jurisdiction to look after the land, the language and the culture of our people.

Today the most serious threat comes from the proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Following on beloved Arthur Manuel's vision, the Assembly took place on the land near Clearwater and we held ceremony right on the route where the Kinder Morgan pipeline is proposed to cross. Our Secwepemc War Chief/Peace Chief and Secwepemc Salmon Chief were present and declared their unwavering opposition to the pipeline. Their words "Not Over My Dead Body" rang through the Assembly. 

In the presence of our chiefs, elders, women and children, the "Secwepemc Peoples Declaration on Protecting Our Land and Water against the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline" has been declared. We the Secwepemc have never provided and will never provide our collective free, prior and informed consent - the minimal international standard - to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Project. We explicitly and irrevocably refuse its passage through our territory. Investors take note, there is no Secwepemc consent for Kinder Morgan. Kinder Morgan Will Not Pass Through Secwepemc Territory! 


We will continue asserting our collective Secwepemc responsibility and jurisdiction to address these most urgent issues impacting Secwepemcul'ecw.

Secwepemc Declaration on Protecting Our Land & Water Against the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline

We, the Secwepemc, have never ceded, surrendered, or given up our sovereign title and rights over the land, waters and resources within Secwepemcul’ecw. We have lived on our land since time immemorial and have never been conquered by war. We collectively hold title and governance regarding Secwepemcul’ecw and the collective consent of the Secwepemc is required for any access to our lands, waters and resources.

The Secwepemc collectively are the decision-making authority for Secwepemcul’ecw lands and waters. The Secwepemc are committed to upholding our collective and spiritual responsibility to look after the land, the language and the culture of our people. Under Secwepemc and spiritual law, the land, the water, the animals are our equals and our relations. The salmon has sustained us since time immemorial and hence it is our responsibility to take care of our salmon, the watercourses they travel through and their spawning and birthing grounds in our territory. Our ceremonies ensure that our way of life and our environment are protected. Secwepemc law is the highest law of the land.

We, the Secwepemc, stand resolutely together against any and all threats to our lands, the wildlife and the waterways. Today the most serious threat comes from the proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Secwepemul’ecw is the largest indigenous territory that the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project is proposed to pass through, covering up to 518 km of the pipeline route. The federal and provincial governments and Kinder Morgan have failed to engage with the Secwepemc collectively, as the proper title and rights holders. Their infringement of our laws, our spirituality, and our relationship to the land can never be accepted or justified.

The federal government unilaterally approved the original Trans Mountain Pipeline in 1951, when Indigenous Peoples were prohibited from organizing on land issues and holding our ceremonies. The original pipeline went into operation in 1953 without the consent of the Secwepemc.

Today, once again the federal government has approved the proposed expansion of the Trans-Mountain pipeline without the consent of the Secwepemc. Kinder Morgan has signed deals with a few Indian Bands Councils, in a cynical attempts to divide and conquer our people. We remind them that Indian bands are not the title holders of Secwepemcul’ecw. Indian bands have only delegated authority from the federal government on Indian Reserve lands, which currently cover only 0.2% of the territory claimed by Canada, which entrenches our poverty through dispossession, dependency and oppression. Indian Band councils have no independent decision-making power regarding access to our Secwepemc territory. The Secwepemc collectively are the only decision-making authority regarding our lands and waters.

Today we remind the people of the so-called province of British Colombia that their own government has recognized at the National Energy Board hearing that the proposed project is not safe on land or water. Yet the government still approved it. We remind the people of so-called British Colombia that even under Canadian colonial law, we as Indigenous Peoples, have more power than the provinces regarding pipeline approvals, since our rights are protected under Section 35 of the Canadian constitution. The Supreme Court of Canada, in the Tsilhqot’in Decision warned governments and investors that the only way to ensure legal and economic certainty is to get the consent of Indigenous Peoples. Kinder Morgan does not have the collective consent of the Secwepemc.

The Kinder Morgan pipeline is not simply a threat to our land it is a threat to the entire planet. It carries bitumen from the Alberta tar sands, which are one of the largest greenhouse gas emitter and the largest construction project in the world and that this commercial industrial megaproject has had devastating impacts on us all. The proposed pipeline stands to accelerate the extraction and climate change impacts. If the proposed Kinder Morgan Pipeline Expansion project goes through, tar sands exploitation could increase by 40%. The world cannot afford this destructive increase in capacity. The only way to avoid further climate change impacts is to keep the tar sands buried in the ground.

We stand in solidarity with other Indigenous Peoples, Spiritual Peoples, environmental groups, organizations, municipalities, international supporters, land and water defenders and people opposed to tar sands extraction and the proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project.

We, the Secwepemc, have the inherent right to self-determination, which is also recognized under international human rights law. Canada is a signatory to the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which includes the right to freely determine our political status and freely pursue our economic, social and cultural development. This fundamental international legal principle is also enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples. It is further expressed through the principle of indigenous free, prior and informed consent in UNDRIP and international environmental agreements. 

We the Secwepemc have never provided and will never provide our collective consent to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Project. In fact, we hereby explicitly and irrevocably refuse its passage through our territory.

Declared in Unceded, Unsurrendered Secwepemcul’ecw, Secwepemc Territory.

(Clearwater, BC at the Secwepemcul’ecw Assembly / June 4, 2017)