An open letter to Mayor Derek Corrigan and Burnaby residents regarding Camp Cloud

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      Dear Mayor Corrigan and the good people of Burnaby,

      Camp Cloud exists to monitor the dangerous activities occurring at Kinder Morgan’s tank farm. Camp Cloud fulfills its responsibilities by alerting the wider community to the clearcutting of trees, and the moving in of man-camp housing, pipes, machinery, and more infrastructure within the tank farm’s gates that threaten the safety of Burnaby and our coastal waters.

      Kinder Morgan’s expansion violates Coast Salish laws that require respectful relationship with and stewarding of the land and waters that we all rely upon. We recognize that Camp Cloud’s presence is premised upon stopping Kinder Morgan, and that its temporary structures at 8099 Shellmont will come down when its work is accomplished. There remains much to do since Camp Cloud’s work is not finished, nor is the City of Burnaby’s, which states that it is also opposed to the inevitable dangers that come with massive pipeline expansion.

      Regarding the city’s recent eviction notice and injunction application, the right thing for Burnaby to do is to find a way to respect Coast Salish laws by first requiring Kinder Morgan to comply with both Coast Salish laws and Burnaby’s bylaws before taking any hasty action against water protectors. It is inequitable and unfair to enforce bylaws against Camp Cloud (working from and with grassroots movements) but not Kinder Morgan (the reason for Camp Cloud’s presence).

      The structures and trailers at Camp Cloud function to support a community of water guardians. We call for flexibility with city bylaws for this temporary but necessary community that works for larger collective well-being. Ways can and need to be found to ensure both safety and continuity of Camp Cloud’s work.

      The small, symbolic, and monitored fire that the Elders have stated as being sacred represents the spirit of the people fulfilling their responsibilities to Coast Salish laws and land. Section 2 (a) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects people’s freedom of conscience and religion and the right to tend this sacred fire. By nurturing this sacred fire, Camp Cloud is supporting work that prevents future forest fires in a time of global warming. The sacred fire is medicine against the unholy fires caused by long-term disrespect for the land.

      Burnaby's fire chief apparently has the power but no will to permit ceremonial fires. Systemic racism effectively means barbecues get privileged over sacred fires in Burnaby's bylaws. If Burnaby moves to take police action against Camp Cloud, but not against Kinder Morgan, then this unfortunately falls into the trap of a divide-and-conquer pattern that furthers the defeat of our shared goals.

      Camp Cloud has shown that it is concerned and vigilant regarding safety, which is why they have water near the fire, dampen the ground under the fire on a regular basis, and have firekeepers nearby at all times.

      We hope the city will find ways to peacefully respect the sacred ceremonial practices and temporary structures at Camp Cloud. If we all share the goal of protecting this coast, we also need to find ways to take care of each other and build a culture of respectful relations. We understand that mistakes do sometimes occur on both sides, but we hope these can be moments where we learn to work together more effectively and equitably as a society for the long term.

      This moment is a chance to build an inclusive community, not traumatize it through forcible displacement of dedicated water protectors. We caution the city against a repeat of the police violence that happened at Camp Cloud in January, and we hope all parties will find a way to respect the sacred fire that symbolizes our shared responsibilities for the well-being of this land and each other. As such, we call for further mediation between the camp and the city.


      Rita Wong

      Cecily Nicholson

      annie ross

      Steve Collis