March 4, 2022 | ACTIVE LIFE | By Alanna Jackson
Chants of “No justice, no peace! No Enbridge-Backed Police!,” “No pipelines! No prisons! Total abolition!,” and “Chase get off it! You’re making dirty profits!” erupted on Monday, Feb. 28 as Colorado College students, water protectors, and other community members marched down Tejon Street.
Holding signs calling for the divestment from the Line 3 Pipeline by Chase Bank, the group, led in chants by Fer Juarez Duran ’23, united to call for collective action in support of water and land protectors.
In Minnesota, Enbridge, a multinational pipeline company based in Calgary, Alberta, has built six pipelines, including the now-infamous Line 3, that transport tar sand from Alberta to Wisconsin. Line 3 transfers nearly a million barrels of tar sands oil per day, funneling a fossil fuel whose extraction emits up to three times more global warming pollution than does producing the same quantity of conventional crude oil. Even though Line 3 has over 900 anomalies, or cracks and leaks, Enbridge downplays the threat of said anomalies.
Yet, as water protectors and environmental activists explain, these structure fissures caused by corrosion have led to catastrophic environmental disasters, such as the Kalamazoo oil spill. The pipeline itself is in violation of Anishinaabe treaty territories in Minnesota.
Line 3, approved without formal evaluation and impact analysis, imperils safe water sources for millions and infringes on Indigenous sovereignty and livelihood, as the pipeline runs through the heart of watersheds and wild rice of Indigenous treaty territory.
Atquetzali Quiroz ’24 and Anna Sophia Vera ’22 assert that the impending environmental destruction is not isolated to Minnesota.
“All bodies of water are connecting, and the pipeline has contaminated the Mississippi River, which travels beyond Minnesota,” said Quiroz.
Quiroz is an education major and race, ethnicity, and migration studies (REMS) minor, Bonner Fellow, and Vice President of the CC’s Native American Student Union (NASU). Vera is an environmental science major and issue-based organizer leader for the Environment and Ecology Coalition at CC’s Collaboration for Community Engagement (CCE).
The Stop Line 3 movement is more than an environmental rights issue.
“The [Stop Line 3] movement addresses an array of issues and concerns, meaning Stop Line 3 is an intersectional campaign that integrates concerns about native lands and water, femme rights, environmental justice, environmental racism, and Indigenous sovereignty,” said Vera.
The campaign is not a fractured or fragmented issue isolated to one location or concern. “This is not an Indigenous issue or a Minnesota Issue. It is a human rights issue,” Quiroz said.
At Colorado College, three student organizations — NASU, the Sunrise Movement, and the Environment and Ecology Coalition — began collaborating a few months ago.
Vera and Quiroz explained that the core group of organizers, including themselves, Caroline Sandberg ’25, Cecelia Russell ’24, Rosalee Bayer ’22, and Ethan Stewart ’25, have felt the magnitude and importance of being in community with people passionate about the same issues and willing to work together.
“Our work across organizations is a demonstration of solidarity. Regardless of who you are, it is important to show solidarity, which is how we work together towards liberation,” Quiroz said. “All kinds of liberation — Black, Indigenous, queer, femme — are all interconnected and dependent on the other.”
Vera explained that even though she is an international student and did not feel directly affected by the events happening around Line 3, she realized that Stop Line 3 should be a priority of hers, especially since she cares about the security of Native American treaties and rights and Native women.
Studies show that the pipeline construction has increased the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women. As pipeline workers occupy temporary housing, called “man camps,” close to reservation lands, more femme-identifying and femme-presenting people are disappeared or murdered, demonstrating that Line 3 threatens the safety and well-being of Indigenous women, and idea which is often absent from media coverage of Line 3.
Likewise, Vera emphasized how the main discourse about environmentalism at CC is to reduce the carbon footprint, which seems abstract. “The Stop Line 3 campaign allows students to directly and tangibly engage with diminishing the carbon footprint and dependence on fossil fuels, while also working towards safeguarding and increasing human rights,” she said.
Quiroz has been involved with the movement since the initial proposal, as they are from St. Paul, Minn. and are Indigenous. Their community, friends, and they themselves, have been on the frontlines.
Quiroz wanted to bring awareness to this issue and organize at CC due to their passion about the issue, the general lack of awareness of Line 3 in Colorado, and how it is affecting their community directly. However, while the organizing has been rewarding, Quiroz mentioned that it has been challenging.
“Knowing that my family and friends are up there [in Minnesota] and are being directly impacted, whereas I am here in Colorado Springs even more protected has been a little heavy on my heart,” Quiroz said. “I am so used to being there with my community and being there on the frontlines with them. I also wanted to bring greater attention to the anti-pipeline movement and Water Is Life movement.”
Over the past two months, the three groups have worked to inform CC students about the issue through informational workshops. Beyond knowledge-sharing, the organizers also led a rally on Monday, where students met on Tava Quad and marched downtown to Chase Bank, one of the biggest funders of Line 3 and fossil fuel projects in general. Over the last three years, Chase has contributed $317 billion to fossil fuel projects and $1.8 billion to the Line 3 pipeline, according to Quiroz.
The rally, in which several CC students and locally-based water protectors spoke, sang, and recited poetry, aimed to demonstrate how students’ money is used directly and indirectly towards fossil fuels projects, connected to a larger movement called Stop the Money Pipeline.
The organizers hope to not only hold Chase Bank accountable through sending letters and emails and making phone calls to the CEO to demand divestment from Line 3, but they also hope to encourage CC students to transition from large banks, such as Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup to name a few, that fund Line 3.
The rally speakers, passionate yet solemn, brought attention to how the Line 3 project is a part of the ongoing subjugation of women’s bodies and Indigenous knowledge by powerful corporations and the state.
In the future, the group hopes to create pamphlets and host workshops to ensure that CC students and their families and friends are aware of alternative banking options and can transition safely, a project that the research team within the Sunrise Movement has been working on. They also hope that the informational sessions encourage students to be more willing to donate to water protector bail funds circulating on social media and organizations such as Stop Line 3, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women USA, Stop the Money Pipeline, and Drop the Charges.
While Vera and Quiroz acknowledged that it can be difficult to engage with activism work while on the Block Plan, they emphasized that it can be done.
“If you are passionate about something, go for it. I guarantee there are others who are also doing the work or who want to get involved,” Quiroz said. “If you don’t know where to start, feel free to reach out to me (NASU), the Sunrise Movement, or the Environment and Ecology Coalition.”
Be on the lookout for more workshops and events for the Stop Line 3 campaign. Feel free to reach out to NASU (specifically Atquetzali Quiroz, at email@example.com), the Sunrise Movement (specifically Rosalee Bayer, at firstname.lastname@example.org), and the Environment and Ecology Coalition (specifically Anna Vera, at email@example.com), to get involved.
“Every little bit of action is important, like a grain of sand piling up,” said Vera. Through the collective actions of individuals and groups who care, each grain of sand can be put forth to build a powerful fortress; ready to defend, unite, and liberate.