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Indigenous youth and the Trans Mountain Pipeline in Canada

Headshots of Patrick Christie (left) and Jade Dudoward (right)

January 18, 2023

On November 16th, 2022 professor and Canadian Studies Center director Patrick Christie and UW student Jade Dudoward (Tsimshian) presented to the Environmental Policy Student Association on environmental justice and fostering collaboration between the UW and Indigenous partners.

Professor Christie presented on the TMX (Transmountain Expansion) pipeline which is set to distribute oil from the Alberta Tar Sands to the shipping port in Burnaby, British Columbia sparking concern over both ecological and human impacts that will stem from this project. These impacts include a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic, increased sound pollution negatively impacting orca and other species, increased threat of a major oil spill, and of course continued emissions contribution to the ongoing climate crisis. TMX appears to contradict the Government of Canada promises to reduce their emissions portfolio, but this pipeline is also the latest battle over Indigenous sovereignty in the Salish Sea region, which includes the Puget Sound, Strait of Juan de Fuca, Strait of Georgia, and associated inlets and waterways. This oil is largely destined for Asian markets. Professor Christie presented a digital story created by UW students describing TMX as part of the project Finding Common Ground: Communicating Across Boarders to Restore the Salish Sea.

Jade Dudoward is an Environmental Science and Terrestrial Resource Management major and American Indian Studies minor. He is a member of the Tsimshian Band from Lax Kw’alaams British Columbia. He spoke to the students about the importance of storytelling from an Indigenous perspective. Jade shared his expertise on what makes an effective story, pulling from his own experiences with his family and community.

Following the presentations was a robust discussion on how UW students could learn about and engage in such issues.

The event was sponsored by the UW Environmental Student Policy Association; Canadian Studies Center and Center for Human Rights in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies; the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs; and the Washington Sea Grant.