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May 29, 18

Camp Cloud: Fighting Pipelines by Building a Radical Community Space

Report and interview from those in so-called British Columbia resisting Kinder Morgan at Camp Cloud.

This is a call out for support and report back from Camp Cloud in unceded Coast Salish territory in so-called British Columbia. Located at the gates of the Kinder Morgan (KM) facility on Burnaby mountain, Camp Cloud has been surveilling KM’s activities and supporting those engaging in direct action to stop work on the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion since November.

During that time, they have overcome state oppression and police violence and grown a thriving front-line community hub. Here, water protectors are living their resistance and working through what it means to fight colonialism, capitalism, and patriarchy by building a space that honors indigenous sovereignty, communal values, healing, art, women and children, and living with the land.

Camp Cloud community events calendar filled with potlucks, workshops, etc. Images of art and signs that read “community space, there is a place for you at the fireside”, “indigenous resistance” with an upside down Canadian flag, “hemp lands not tar sands”, and “traditional territory of the Coast Salish Peoples Skwxwu7mesh “Squamish” Thunderbird.”

Centered around the Sacred Fire that has been burning since winter solstice, Camp Cloud is an open space where all water protectors and well intentioned neighbors are welcome to sit down, share their feelings, pray, and live in a revolutionary space. The camp relies on the local community and supporters from around the world for all its needs and resources. Neighbors come by regularly bringing food and other needed supplies.

There is a communal pantry, kitchen, and dishwashing area, a library, port-o-potty, shower, plenty of space to rest and make art, two gardens, bikes, and other donated gear and supplies to be shared. There is a cabin with bunks and cots to provide a safe living space for women, children, and two-spirit people. There is also a carver’s cabin currently being built. Water protectors work together to continually expand and build new infrastructure to meet their needs. Those with skills in carpentry, mechanics, herbalism, emotional and physical healing, cooking, and gardening are always needed.

Images of structures and spaces at camp: a table painted red, yellow, white, and black with flowers on it next to a traffic barrier spray painted “decolonize the Streets”. The partially constructed carvers cabin behind a road spray-painted “water is life”. A lounge area with blankets, pillows, flowers, a shade umbrella, and a puppy.

Recently, a new living space has been established above the location of the proposed line, putting Camp Cloud not only right at KM’s gates, but also directly blocking their pipeline. The camp values autonomy, and water protectors are encouraged to plan and engage in their own direct action to stop work (with respect to camp safety, not involving unwilling participants, or disrupting ceremony).

Images from in and around the Women’s Cabin. The front door painted black, white, red, and yellow, at the top is painted “water is life” above eyes raining tears. A photo of the bunks inside decorated with art and a large teddy bear. A patio area with lawn chairs and flowers.

While at camp I spoke to Uni, who has been a guiding force there since the beginning, about what she wanted to be reflected here. That evening, as we sat in the Women’s Cabin, a powerful space filled with warmth and candlelight, she shared her thoughts and vision about the work she and other water protectors were doing at Camp Cloud, and why you should join them:

“It’s liberation, it’s justice and it’s sovereignty. It’s supporting the indigenous sovereignty movement. It’s being that change, that our actions everyday here, being present here, is defending the water that has been sustaining us and will continue to sustain us, as there is no other alternative.

Dishwashing area. A whiteboard labeled “projects” with tasks written out.

So this is the next part of a lifelong journey of working in community, working together, and learning how to take care of the land and continuing to put [out] occupying trespassers aka Canada aka the United States of America, all the imperialists, the colonizers.

Colonialism hurts everyone, it doesn’t benefit anyone, and the shift in focus on finding success is backwards. It’s being present right now and being real with the reality, and the reality is that we are under attack, we are under threat this whole entire time and I believe that making this direct physical resistance has opened up a lifelong work of resisting colonialism, creatively, through arts and music, through gathering, through community and just showing up… [There’s] people that are staying awake, and that understand the truth, and feel that calling, and can’t really associate or relate to the colonial system, and so we’ve gotta stick together and help each other out in terms of building this way of life, which is our own economy that is connected to nature.

Screens and art that read “love is the answer, love for mother earth, our children, animals, trees, good relations, salmon, orcas, justice, water”, “neighbors welcome”, “no Kinder Morgan man camps, Idle No More lives”, and “water is life”.

We’re definitely making the wake-up call, the action call. For the paradigm shift from patriarchy, colonialism, pain and suffering. I guess it’s easier said then done… I think I’ve really had to go through a lot of feeling, experiencing that pain of patriarchy and colonialism. I deal with social anxiety all the time so I’m really working on being present and sharing my feelings, but it’s still a lot of work… It’s really being yourself and coming out… and like [for me] full circle right now just being here like fuck you pigs, fuck you Canada, fuck you NGOs. We can make art we can paint we can be here. We can exist and your not gonna fucking put any kind of force or money or anything to try to take us down and bully people and follow that way of power. That’s not power that’s not growth that’s not love, and I think this is love. Is sacrificing and learning some of that shit that’s really uncomfortable about us.

Two gardens showing hay mulch, lines of planted greens, and a sign that reads “Kinder Morgan your pipeline and holding tanks gotta go!!”

That goes to show that’s why we’re working through this, it’s a journey and it’s not gonna happen over night and this women’s cabin is gonna be here for a very long time. Here growing as a community we’ve inspired to wake up all nations, all people, to grow their own food and garden and say yeah fuck you city you don’t have power over me. Like voting and all these things that the colonial oppressors market for, and that people buy into thinking oh this is where I’m contributing… Like no, we’re the guests of the original people. And I’m really honored and feel really grateful to understand what un-ceded means, because coming from my land in the Philippines that’s just been desecrated and the culture is so integrated with religion and Catholicism and shaming and patriarchy and always feeling sorry and all people really talked about is work and labour. It’s like that’s not the right kind of labour. People work hard just so they can eat and spend time with their family and that’s the core of me and my nature and my roots and Decolonizing with indigenous people here is so empowering.

[The change] starts here with our privilege and our freedom and utilizing that and nurturing it and letting that amplify and expand through creativity. That’s been really challenging for me this whole year… working with anger, I think people can really touch base on that. Like fuck, I’ve been working on that and just not being so angry but it’s still a tough one. It’s my question of I guess how do you tell the pigs in a love and kind way to get the fuck outta here and be human, be real?

Damage inflicted by police during a raid to the door of a trailer that at the time was holding two indigenous matriarchs. Image of the Trans Mountain property line sign posted by KM, The KM gate surrounded by posters and art. A sign that reads, “police serving and protecting the corporatocracy” and “cops don’t make us safe”.

Today was pretty cool hanging out with this 5 or 6 year old girl, and she painted the city barricades, the traffic barricades, and that’s beautiful. Seeing color and seeing things that people can focus and pay attention to and be present. It’s putting in art, putting in messages for people to slow the fuck down and see what’s in front of them and then connect with themselves. Yeah, so badass, cause the cities trying to come [paint over them], perhaps, who knows… It’s something to consider and be prepared for and if they come and do paint over all the beautiful art that’s on the barriers, we’ll just paint again. You can’t shut out this light and that’s really beautiful. And I think that’s spreading all around and I hope we continue to be world bridgers, and yeah, be kind and be gentle. And the resistance is just gonna grow… I wanna see more sites like this pop up like clouds. The resistance is real cuz we’re on the verge of extinction and that’s the reality of it in terms of smashing colonialism.”

Traffic barriers installed by the city of Burnaby painted with a Medicine Wheel, eagles, mountains, hearts, and the words “beautiful unceded land”.

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