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The Oct. 24 protest at Parliament Hill has been called the largest act of youth-led climate civil disobedience in Canadian history. Photo: Jaclyn McRae-Sadik.

Select U of O students banned from Parliament for three months

On Oct. 24, approximately 200 members of the Ottawa community, including 100 youth and students from across the country, rallied on Parliament Hill to protest the Kinder Morgan pipeline—only to be met with arrests by police.

The existing 1,150 km pipeline, built in 1953, has been approved for a 980 km expansion between Strathcona County, Alta., and Burnaby, B.C. However, many groups are in opposition to the pipeline since it will pass through the land of several Indigenous communities.

Aside from the effects this will have on First Nations groups, concerns also arose due to the potential effects of the pipeline on marine life, along with other environmental concerns. According to the group 350.org, Sophie Birks, a student from McGill University who attended the rally, summed up the event by saying, “climate leaders don’t build pipelines.”

The Oct. 24 rally began at the University of Ottawa campus, where students, Indigenous groups, and other community members marched to Parliament Hill.

Lisa Gunn, a masters student in international development with women’s studies, was one of the students present at the rally who was arrested.

“Everyone was excited to be there, to take a stand on something we believe in and care about,” said Gunn, recalling how she had originally found out about the protest during a previous conference on pipelines organized by the 350.org.

According to Gunn, “there were a couple points when (the protesters) were interacting with police,” which involved intentionally crossing a police barricade.

Approximately 100 students ended up crossing the barricade, and Gunn said that she was among the last 10 to do so.

Following their arrest, Gunn said that the police took her and the other protesters to the side, took down their names, read them their rights, and issued trespassing warrants. Now, Gunn and the others arrested at the protest are banned from Parliament Hill for the next three months.

The Oct. 24 protest has been called “the largest act of youth-led climate civil disobedience in Canadian history” by 350.org and despite the arrests, Gunn is hopeful about further steps to take on the issue.

“I know that there will be follow-up action, just to hammer home the (Kinder Morgan) pipeline,” she said.

Gunn believes that there will be a lot of pressure on the federal government regarding the pipeline, since 350.org is now asking all the protesters who were arrested to write a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the back of their trespassing warrants, in response to the protest and in opposition to the pipeline.

“We (the youth) were one of the main demographics that brought the Liberal government into power,” Gunn said. And because of this, she hopes that this demographic will have their voices heard.

For students wishing to get involved with this initiative, and others of the same nature, Gunn suggests joining local divestment  groups like Fossil Free uOttawa.