Catherine Hembling Arrested

CUSJ stands with former member Catherine Hembling (80 years old) (lower right speaking at the microphone). She was one of the Brunette Six who defied the court injunction, stood in the way of the Transmountain (TMX) pipeline and was arrested.  She is currently serving 14 days in jail for her protest.

She began her statement by acknowledging the unceded historical territories of many indigenous groups: the Musqueam, the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh, and in the area of the tree sits, where she was arrested, the Kwet Kwitlem and the Qway Qwayt.  She also recognized their leadership in this struggle against the construction of Trans Mountain Pipeline, in terms of legal cases, past and ongoing ceremonies, arrests, and inspiration to stand  up for this planet.

Catherine was standing for our Unitarian 7th principle to promote the understanding that we live in an interedependent web of existence with all life and we are but a part of it.  Our job is to support life in all its forms and to protect the land, air and water we all depend on.

Vancouver Unitarians are standing steadfastly on the line against the completion of the Federally owned Pipeline through Burnaby, designed to increase exports from the Alberta tar sands.  Catherine Hembling pleaded guilty to breaking the injunction and was sentenced to 14 days in jail on February 17, 2022.  See the full statement she read to the court before she was sentenced.

Over 300 gathered at the courthouse the day of sentencing, including 30 Vancouver Unitarians, to support the brave Brunette Six who had stood up to stop the pipeline’s progress, defying the injunction.  They sang uplifting songs led by Earle Peach, chanted their anger and resolve to keep up the fight against the oil and gas industry.  See the full story.  One protestor passionately called for more people to put themselves on the line and get arrested.

This article in the Burnaby Now from February 15th demonstrates how the conflict between those who are concerned about action on climate change and the authorities is continuing to escalate.

It was reported in The Guardian in May 2021 that the International Energy Agency told us that Governments must close gap between net zero rhetoric and reality.  There must be no new oil, gas or coal development if world is to reach net zero by 2050.  No fossil fuel cars should be sold after 2035.  Meanwhile, The Energy Mix reported that the great climate backslide has begun as Canada’s banks pour trillions into new fossil fuel development and Canadian and Provincial governments continue to pour billions every year into fossil fuel subsidies.  Some might be tempted to think that our collective behaviour as a species is the very definition of insanity.

On February 18, 2022, The Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister, announced that the project was now half completed and that she was confident it would go ahead with private financing and loans from financial institutions.  She said there would be no more public funding from the Federal Government.

Catherine Hembling’s final message to us:  “Considering all that, and my values, I would be ashamed, on my death bed, if I had spent the last years of my life sitting on the sidelines, closing my eyes, merely amusing myself, and doing nothing to stop this monstrous pipeline expansion pouring carbon into the Earth’s atmosphere.  I do this peacefully, non-violently, and full heartedly.”  To me, Catherine Hemblings’ actions are the definition of sanity.

Article by Frances Deverell with thanks to Tamiko Suzuki for the initial report.


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