More than 600 protesters have taken to the streets of Prince Rupert, B.C., to oppose Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta's oilsands to Kitimat, a port on the northern B.C. coast.
The super-sized rally is being hosted by the Hartley Bay First Nation, a tiny village at the end of the Douglas Channel — the main access point for tankers arriving at the planned Enbridge terminal in Kitimat.
Marvin Robinson, a band councillor, says residents are worried about risks posed by hundreds of oil tankers passing their community.
Other First Nations, environmentalists, local leaders, residents and even rock artist Bif Naked are also turning out to support Hartley Bay.
Prince Rupert City Councillor Jennifer Rice is also an opponent of the project and believes taking over the city for a day is a symbolic gesture of unity.
"We may associate negative feelings and negative emotions with this project but the irony of it is that actually brings people together," said Rice.
Hartley Bay councillor Cameron Hill has said in the past he is willing to die to stop the Enbridge project.
"Because I don't know any other life. This is the life I have been brought up in. This is what I want my kids to enjoy. And I want them to have the life that I have had, which I consider to be the best life ever."
Public hearings continue
The protest follows a warning on Friday that the pipeline proposal currently under review at National Energy Board hearings could damage the relationship between the federal government and Canada's First Nations.
The proposed pipeline would transport oil from the Edmonton area to the port in Kitimat, B.C., where it would be loaded on tankers and shipped to markets in the U.S. and Asia.
The project has long been a source of controversy, with opponents arguing an oil spill is inevitable and supporters touting the pipeline's promises of boosting Canada's gross domestic product by as much as $270 billion.
More than 4,300 individuals and groups have signed up to speak at community hearings on the proposal, which are being conducted by a federal review panel and are expected to last until 2013.
A spokesperson for Enbridge Northern Gateway says the company will not comment on opposition rallies.