Hummingbird nesting ground briefly stops a construction site of Trans Mountain pipeline


Kaya George from the Tsleil – Waututh Nation is the great granddaughter of chief Dan George.

She grew up along the Burrard Inlet looking at the industrial development just across the water – including Kinder Morgan’s Westridge Dock.

That’s where a million barrels of bitumen from the Alberta tar sands will be loaded onto supertankers daily once the Trans Mountain Pipeline twinning project is complete.

George, along with others from her nation, have opposed the Trans Mountain Pipeline since the beginning with the belief that a spill in those waters in inevitable.

“I was taught that this inlet is our grandmother our oldest grandmother and we must do anything and everything we can to protect it,” explains George.

hummingbirds
‘Hummingbirds represent good luck,’ says Kaya George. Photo: Simon Charland/APTN.

But now they have help from an unlikely source. Hummingbirds are stopping part of the massive project – temporarily.

Sara Ross and Donna Clark are part of the Nest Finders Network and saw that construction crews were clearing an area where hummingbirds were nesting so they brought in two wildlife officers to see what was happening.

“I knew where she was nesting and as we got close I could hear the chainsaws and we saw the tree fall and all of us saw it and that was when the wildlife officer said ‘stop the work’ and they did, the guy got on his walkie talkie and stopped the work,” says Sara Ross.

“The cutter came out we walked right in there and I was able to locate the broken branch on the ground with the nest still attached. It was destroyed.”

The company has been ordered to stop work in the area until after the hummingbird nesting season is over in late august.

The company says it will comply with the order and not work in the area until August. Photo: Simon Charland/APTN.

In a statement – the company said, “The order applies to the specific work package, which is an area covering approximately 1,000 metres of private land between the Trans-Canada highway and a rail corridor and restricts certain construction activities.

“Trans Mountain will proceed with any work within the 1,000-metre area not subject to restrictions of the order.”

Donna Clark is happy they were able to utilize a federal government law to give a temporary reprieve from the project.

“A federal law the migratory bird convention act which makes it against the law to destroy or disturb nests including eggs during nesting season,” said Clark.

hummingbirds
Donna Clark says she was happy that authorities could use a federal law to stop work on the Trans Mountain. Photo: Simon Charland/APTN.

Eugene Kung has represented numerous Indigenous nations in fighting the project in the courts.

“Any delays are going to cause some form of increase in costs and of course with every cost the project falls further outside of the public interest,” he said.

Kaya George added “hummingbirds represent good luck and represent what is to come and I think in this situation what is to come is ultimately the defeat of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.”

Video Journalist / Vancouver

A proud Métis from BC, Tina began her television career in 1997 as a talent agent for film and TV. She joined APTN National News in 2007 as a Video Journalist in the Vancouver bureau. In 2010, she was the recipient of the Amnesty International Human Rights Journalism Award for her story on murdered and missing women and girls.