Standing Rock pipeline protest leader draws a crowd in Vancouver

Hundreds of pipeline opponents packed a meeting in Vancouver last night to hear from a leader of the Standing Rock protests in North Dakota.

Tara Houska shared tactics used in North Dakota where she's been living at the Standing Rock protest camp

Several hundred people turned out at a meeting at SFU on Thursday night to discuss strategies for pipeline protests.

Hundreds of pipeline opponents packed a meeting in Vancouver Thursday night to hear from a leader of the Standing Rock protests in North Dakota.

Nearly 500 people have been arrested in North Dakota at the ongoing protests against the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, and the encampments show no sign of breaking up for the winter.

Meanwhile, in B.C., pipeline opponents and First Nations leaders are preparing for a large rally in Vancouver Saturday targeting Kinder Morgan's proposed Trans-Mountain pipeline expansion plans.

"Can direct action stop new pipelines?" asked speaker Jackie DeRoo at the meeting at SFU's downtown Vancouver campus.

Tara Houska made the journey all the way from North Dakota where she's been living at the Standing Rock encampment for nearly four months, protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. (CBC)

The answer came from Tara Houska, who made the journey all the way from North Dakota where she's been living at the Standing Rock encampment for nearly four months, protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.

"There really isn't much of a border when it comes to these issues ... and how we can effectively use direct action to make a difference and make a change," said Houska.

Some of the tactics used in North Dakota include camping directly on the planned pipeline route and blocking a train with a pick-up truck.

In response, riot police have been using tear gas, rubber bullets and Tasers to remove and arrest protesters blocking the ongoing construction of the pipeline.

So far in B.C., pipeline protests have been largely peaceful, but in 2014 dozens of protesters were arrested for attempting to block survey work on Burnaby Mountain.

Liberal MP breaks ranks

The forum comes just as a Ron McKinnon, the Liberal MP for Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam, broke ranks with his party to write a letter to the federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr calling for the rejection of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.

Canada's federal government has just over a month left to decide whether to approve or reject the $6.8 billion project that would triple the capacity of the existing pipeline linking the Alberta oilsands with Vancouver Harbour.

McKinnon said from his constituents' perspective the government lacks social licence to allow the project to go ahead.

The federal government has promised to deliver its decision on the plan by Dec. 19.

  

With files from Tanya Fletcher