'This city sees itself in Standing Rock': Climate advocate says dozens of Winnipeggers travelling to protest
Local groups gathered Friday to drum up support and solidarity for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation
Dozens of Winnipeggers are preparing to make a cross-border drive to Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, where they will join protesters there in the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
On Friday, supporters packed into a West End church to drum up support and solidarity for Standing Rock and the Winnipeggers going there.
From sending money and winter supplies to posting on social media or going there physically, a handful of activist-led groups teaching people how to help combat the multi billion dollar project.
'This city sees itself in Standing Rock'
Clayton Thomas-Muller is one of dozens of Standing Rock supporters who will make the trip in convoys from Winnipeg. He said he plans to leave on Sunday and stay for a week in the community's protest camp.
Some Winnipeggers made the same journey this summer, and in September, a group marched down Portage Avenue in solidarity. On Oct. 30, local supporters held a vigil on the steps of the Manitoba Legislature.
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Thomas-Muller said he thinks Manitoba's familiarity with the Energy East pipeline and Winnipeg's large Indigenous population means people here can more readily identify with the issues at play down south.
"I think this city sees itself in Standing Rock," Thomas-Muller said. "The violence against women and children, against water protectors by North Dakota police, by private security contractors of Energy Transfers, I think this has hit close to home for a lot of people right here in the community, and that's why I think we've seen the response that we've seen."
Thomas-Muller is a member of the global climate change advocacy group 350.org.
"People are coming out, they're concerned about the safety of these people, they see themselves in their fight and they want the support from everybody in the United States for our fight here against Energy East."
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Thomas-Muller said Standing Rock is one battlefield in a much larger struggle against global dependence on fossil fuel.
"This is not just one fight," he said. "We know that there is the scientific, the moral and the economic imperative to get off of oil, and we know we have the technology right now to do it. We just need the political will."
'The tide is changing'
Indigenous rights advocate Leah Gazan helped facilitate the meeting. She said local support is a symptom of a "massive social shift."
Gazan said around a million people took part in a social media campaign to "check in" at Standing Rock, where supporters all over the world posted on Facebook they were at the camp.
"I've been at this for all of my life. I've never seen that kind of support," she said.
"I think the tide is changing. I think we're seeing a growing movement much like we saw in the '60s, and it's based on human rights, and particularly in this case, fundamental Indigenous human rights."