Video by Janice Lee.

Concerned individuals from Six Nations, Waterloo Region and other nearby communities have shut down an “integrity dig” on Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline in North Dumfries, Ontario this morning. Protestors are asserting that Enbridge is operating on Haudenosaunee territory without the required consent or consultation, according to a press release. Workers left the site without incident and at least some equipment has been removed.

This isn’t just about Line 9. This is about pipelines – all of them. This is about the tarsands and how destructive they are to expand, extract and transport.

“Meaningful consultation isn’t just providing information and going ahead without discussion – it’s giving the opportunity to say no and having a willingness to accommodate.” says Missy Elliot, Six Nations member. “We’ve tried pursuing avenues with the NEB, the township and the Grand River Conservation Authority. Our concerns were dismissed. What other choice do we have if we want to protect our land, water and children?” she asks.

Enbridge construction workers leaving the site shortly after protesters arrived.
Workers vacating the site shortly after the protesters' arrival.

Nearby residents were unaware of the purpose of this week’s construction. One person A\J spoke to thought they were building a pool; another didn't know they lived on a pipeline. There are discrepancies within Enbridge’s own documentation regarding the work. The submission to the National Energy Board for this particular dig denotes “L8” (for parallel pipeline Line 8) in one place, Line 9 in another and nothing in the box labelled "Line #." Enbridge confirmed with A\J that the dig is in fact related to Line 9.

The work stoppage is just one in a series of blockades of integrity digs using the slogan “no integrity, no digs,” suggesting that perhaps there is no such thing as integrity when it comes to Enbridge pipelines, based on the company’s history of spills and how they’ve handled them.

Integrity digs are part of the preparations for reversing the flow of the near-40-year-old pipeline and starting to pump tar sands bitumen through it. The work involves digging up small sections of the pipeline to make repairs. Enbridge is conducting hundreds of these digs this year, addressing some of the thousands (12,000 by some counts) of detected “anomalies” along the line, not all of which are necessarily of significant concern.

RELATED: Crack Pipeline: Line 9 Facts & Figures (Infographic) 

The group plans to make good use of their time occupying the site, hosting teach-ins about Six Nations history, why it’s important to support Indigenous communities resisting development and skills useful for interventions like this one. Anyone from the surrounding communities is invited to join, and directions to the site can be found here.

It’s not just a Six Nations issue or an indigenous issue. We share the responsibility to protect our land and water as human beings.
– Missy Elliot


According to the press release, changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, passed in December 2012, left the section of the Grand River adjacent to the Enbridge work site and pipeline unprotected. The Star has uncovered that these changes were pushed through by the pipeline industry. Approximately half a million people rely on drinking water provided by the Grand River.

A number of First Nations in Western Canada are taking their own pipeline resistance to the courts, which lawyer and author Barbara Janusz argues is becoming a promising avenue for environmental protection. With so many environmental protections being repealed in recent years, new legislation is so lax that it’s giving rise to increased constitutional challenges and providing the courts more opportunity to steer environmental decision-making.

RELATED: Harper’s Crimes Against Ecology \ Canadian Judiciary Poised to Redress Environmental Degradation

“This isn’t just about Line 9 – or Northern Gateway, Energy East or Keystone XL. This is about pipelines – all of them,” Danielle Boissineau asserts in the press release. “This is about the tarsands and how destructive they are to expand, extract and transport.”

“This is a continental concern,” adds Elliot. “It’s not just a Six Nations issue or an indigenous issue. We share the responsibility to protect our land and water as human beings.”

Six Nations members and supporters at the site.

Laura is a past A\J managing editor. She has an MA in Communication Studies from Wilfrid Laurier University, is an organizing aficionado, lackadaisical gardener, and former musical theatre producer. @inhabitings

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