Jean Swanson’s statement to the court

Jean Swanson

"Every single person who takes a stand against the pipeline is pointing toward a more just future" 

Today Jean Swanson was sentenced to 7 days in prison for protesting the Trans Mountain pipeline. She made the following statement to the court:
Two weeks ago, at the sentencing of Laurie Embree for protesting the Trans Mountain pipeline, the crown said “Canada is a country founded on the rule of law,” then someone from the gallery yelled out “like stealing land from Native people?”
She was right to yell that out. At every point in the history of this province and this country, people had to choose between justice and injustice.
When settlers arrived, they were faced with the choice of respecting Indigenous culture and land, or of trying to destroy the cultures and steal the land.
They were faced with the choice of protecting the environment, or of plundering it, cutting down the ancient forests, and threatening the waters and sea life.
And they were faced with the choice of creating real equality, or of making the rich richer and the poor poorer. Now in Vancouver we have over 2000 people sleeping on our streets, 40% of them Indigenous.
My late partner Sandy Cameron wrote a poem called We Need a New Map. Part of it says:

“Some people fear a new map, and they cling to the old one like flies to fly paper. But the old map leads to pepper spray, tear gas, gulags, and the end of the world.”

Too many people have used that old map which pointed toward injustice. But there have always been people trying to follow the map of social and environmental justice.
Indigenous people joined together to oppose the theft of their land, even when their meetings were criminalized and allies were “deterred” from working with them on threat of jail.
Over 900 people joined together to protect Clayoquot sound. Arrests didn’t deter them, and Clayoquot sound still hasn’t been clear-cut because of them.
I’ve spent over 40 years working with others to get governments to reduce and end poverty, and to get more nice non-market housing.
For 12 years the Downtown Eastside community has been fighting for housing that homeless people can afford at 58 W Hastings. But the government says it doesn’t have enough money for this.
Then Trudeau comes along and wants to spend $4.5 billion, maybe up to $13.8 billion, of our tax money on something that’s actually dangerous -- dangerous to the planet because it will transfer fossil fuel to more markets to be burned when it should stay in the ground, dangerous to the land and the water because of inevitable spills, and dangerous to the whales because of pollution and noise from ships. And the pipeline tramples on Indigenous rights by moving through Indigenous territory without Indigenous consent.
That $4.5 billion could build 45,000 modular homes, to house the homeless so they don't live only half the average life span. $4.5 billion could put safe clean water on Indigenous reserves. $4.5 billion could employ Alberta tar sands workers to build solar and wind power.
Why are the crown and the courts so scared of us “sinister seniors” that they have to throw us in jail? Because they know that if we take a stand against injustice, we can win.
This pipeline is the last gasp of the dying fossil fuel industry. Kinder Morgan decided it couldn’t go on, and if we keep protesting the Trudeau government will have give up too.
We don’t have to use the same old map of the settlers, the rich and the powerful. Every single person who takes a stand against the pipeline is pointing toward a more just future. If going to jail can be part of that resistance, so be it.