Valentine’s march calls attention to dangers posed by pipeline workers

By on February 15, 2018
A group of protesters organized by the group Nlaka’pamux Grassroots was at Spirit Square on Valentines Day protesting the proposed Kinder Morgan worker camp for Merritt. (Photo by Julie Van Koll)

A group of First Nations women marked Valentines Day by marching through Merritt, calling attention to missing and murdered indigenous women and the threats an influx of pipeline workers may pose to vulnerable populations.

Organized by the Nlaka’pamux Grassroots, the protest opposed the camp Kinder Morgan intends to set up on the Chutter Ranch in Quilchena to accommodate hundreds of workers if and when its Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion is permitted to begin.

The peaceful protest began at 5:30 p.m. on Coutlee Avenue before ending at Spirit Square where about 30 participants gathered.

The concern, protest organizer Billie Pierre told the Herald, is the potential for this large gathering of workers with disposable income to increase the likelihood of violence against indigenous women and children.

According to a press release from the group, industrialized projects such as mines, oil extraction projects and highway developments have historically increased violence, alcohol, drug use, crime and sexual assaults in the nearby communities.

“There [are] people that are already at risk. There [are] probably people with drug addiction that are involved in prostitution in the Merritt area and I see them as being more vulnerable,” Pierre said.

With hundreds of workers, most of whom will be men, coming to the Merritt area, many women and children will be at risk of violence, drug issues and prostitution, Pierre told the Herald.

“Hopefully none of these things happen, but the reality is we need to prepare ourselves to identify ways we can be there for the women in our community, and for more vulnerable people in our community,” Pierre said.

She said Nlaka’pamux Grassroots is meeting regularly to discuss their concerns with the pipeline and all are welcome to attend their next public meeting on Tuesday (Feb. 20) at the Trinity Church Hall located at 1899 Quilchena Ave.

Protesters gathered at Spirit Square after a march from Coutlee Avenue yesterday evening. (Photo from Julie Val Koll)


  1. Bill Gray

    February 16, 2018 at 6:29 pm

    This is the most racist article I have seen in the Merritt Herald. Native Women are threatened because workers(white in their minds obviously) are coming to town…..How about the workers that came for the power construct, NVIT construct.

    Get real folks

  2. Rich Culbertson

    February 21, 2018 at 9:49 am

    I’m a white male who works in the oilfield. I guess I should report to the Merritt RCMP station every time I come home. BS article.

  3. Alicia Graham

    February 22, 2018 at 12:18 am

    Very disappointed in my hometown! Wow!

  4. Merritt Mom

    February 25, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    Terribly racist article that perpetuates victim culture. When will people realize that, although there are problems – and always will be, to some extent -, if you live in Merritt, or anywhere in BC, really, you are among the most privileged, wealthy, and un-oppressed humans to have ever lived on earth. Really, the emperor has no clothes in this case. The racism and sexism is shocking. I’d like to know the name of this social justice warrior posing as a journalist. Absolute garbage. Merritt is a wonderful place, and the strong young men who do the work on these projects that no one else wants to do, are wonderful too.

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