Ojibwa Montrealer driving to North Dakota to join pipeline protest

Timothy Armstrong, a Montrealer from the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation in Manitoba, is driving 2,500 kilometres to North Dakota to join Standing Rock Sioux tribal members protesting against a contentious pipeline project.

Timothy Armstrong is making 2,500 km trip to join Standing Rock Sioux in fight to protect Missouri River

Protesters demonstrate against the Energy Transfer Partners' Dakota Access oil pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota on Sept. 9, 2016. (Andrew Cullen/Reuters)

Timothy Armstrong embarked on a road trip with a purpose Monday.

Armstrong, a member of the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation in Manitoba, lives in Montreal and works at K103, a radio station based in the Mohawk territory of Kahnawake, on Montreal's South Shore.
Timothy Armstrong, an Ojibwa from Manitoba now working in Kahnawake, is travelling to North Dakota to join the Standing Rock Sioux protest against the construction of a pipeline. (submitted by Timothy Armstrong)

He's been watching the goings-on in North Dakota, where members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have been fighting to halt the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.

The multimillion-dollar project is supposed to transport light sweet crude oil from the Bakken oilfield, south of the Saskatchewan border, to Illinois.

The pipeline will pass north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, cutting through land the tribal members consider sacred and through burial grounds.

There are also concerns that a leak would contaminate the Missouri River which runs along the entire western edge of the reservation.

Armstrong decided it wasn't enough for him to voice his solidarity from Quebec. So he's driving the roughly 2,500 kilometres in order to join the protest in person.

"There's strength in numbers," he said in an interview with CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

Red Warrior Camp in southern North Dakota, set up to support the Standing Rock Sioux Nation's fight against an oil pipeline, has swelled as thousands show up in support. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

Support goes both ways

Armstrong said there are at least a dozen people from Kahnawake already at the protest in North Dakota.

He's been told it's a little late to head to North Dakota, but he said with the media coverage the cause has been getting, now is the perfect time to go.

"We're going to bat for everyone else," he said.

Flags brought by members of Native American tribes and Canadian First Nations fly over an encampment in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. (Andrew Cullen/Reuters)

On Friday, the Sioux scored a win when the U.S. government temporarily suspended construction on the project, saying that the case "highlighted the need for a serious discussion" about nationwide reforms "with respect to considering tribes' views on these types of infrastructure projects."

In a statement, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe called the federal order "a game changer."

Armstrong said TransCanada, the company behind the proposed Energy East pipeline project, should take note of what's happening south of the border.

First Nations leaders in Quebec and in the Maritimes are adamantly opposed to that pipeline's construction.

"We expect just as much solidarity from them coming north as we are heading south," he said.

With files from The Associated Press