After already serving 19 days in jail in October 2020, Jim Leyden and Stacy Gallagher face more jail time for praying, smudging, singing, and dancing in peaceful ceremony to oppose the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project (TMX). Jim and Stacy were again accused of criminal contempt in November and December 2019, for which Jim faces 60 days in jail, and Stacy was sentenced to 90 days in jail.
Both Jim and Stacy are appealing their sentences in response to the court’s systemic racism. Jim plans to file his notice of appeal at his sentencing hearing on May 17, 2021. Stacy was sentenced and taken into custody on March 2, 2021, but released on bail on March 3, 2021 after being granted leave to appeal his sentence to the BC Court of Appeal. If Stacy loses his appeal, he will still have to serve 88 days in jail.
USE OF FUNDS
Mountain Protectors is raising funds to cover Jim and Stacy’s costly appeals. The goal amount of this fundraiser reflects what they could easily spend on their appeals, which includes—but is not limited to—transcripts and lawyer fees. All funds will be deposited directly into a legal defense fund set up by Jim.
Should any additional funds be required during the appeal processes, we will humbly request an updated amount according to added costs.
Jim Leyden and Stacy Gallagher’s cases are prime examples of the disproportionate punishment of Indigenous people for upholding their sacred responsibilities to care for the land. While Jim and Stacy’s cases set dangerous precedents for anyone who dares resist harmful infrastructure projects like TMX, the systemic racism seen in their cases is particularly dangerous for Indigenous land defenders who conduct ceremony in accordance with their traditional cultures and laws.
Since the spring of 2018, the BC Supreme Court has been increasing the severity of penalties for breaches of the TMX injunction, which is designed to deter nonviolent resistance to the pipeline expansion. During that time, Jim and Stacy have offered spiritual support to Indigenous land defenders and settler allies at Kwekwecnewtxw—the Coast Salish Watch House, which sits adjacent to the main gate at the TMX oil tank farm on Burnaby Mountain. With Jim’s Anishinaabe and Métis, and Stacy’s Anishinaabe ancestries, they have permission from Coast Salish Elders to uphold traditional duties as Watchmen from Kwekwecnewtxw. The Watch House is explicitly protected by the terms of the injunction, yet Jim and Stacy have been charged multiple times for violating the injunction—first in August 2018, then again in the fall of 2019, all while engaging in ceremony. In total, Jim and Stacy have been convicted of six charges of criminal contempt.
REASONS WHY THESE APPEALS ARE WINNABLE
The Crown is pushing the limits of colonial law. For their most recent charges, neither Jim nor Stacy was arrested at the time of the events in question. Rather, each was recognized and identified by TMX security who called RCMP officers to the tank farm. Weeks later, Jim and Stacy were charged retroactively with criminal contempt. Without due process to disperse by police on site, the Crown did not adhere to the injunction’s “five steps” for arrests.
“On the day in question, I was not involved in the obstruction of access to the tank farm, but rather, was engaged in traditional Watchman duties, and was conducting a sacred chanupa (pipe) ceremony,” said Jim. The injunction stipulates against preventing work on TMX; however, Jim and Stacy’s pipe ceremony was not a blockade, and they left the premises of their own volition in a timely manner.
Many non-Indigenous people, mostly white people—including so-called “known protesters” who are recognized by the RCMP—were also present for the events in November and December 2019. But it was only Jim and Stacy, the two Indigenous people who were present on those days, who were charged and prosecuted. The targeted nature of their cases is further underscored by an unprecedented “stay away” order against Jim and Stacy by the court, preventing them from coming within 500 meters of any TMX facility.
The Judge and Crown prosecutors for Jim and Stacy’s cases have shown indifference to a recent update to the Crown Prosecutors’ Policy Manual that recommends Crown Counsel avoid imprisonment for Indigenous people facing less than two years of jail in their sentence. This new directive—in conjunction with Gladue rights under section 718.2(e) of the criminal code—was created to redress systemic racism against Indigenous people in the Canadian criminal justice system. While this directive goes unfollowed, so too are UNDRIP, the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as BC’s and Canada’s own commitments to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.
Serving jail time during the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates the already traumatizing experience of jail, as solitary confinement in an “induction” pod is required for 14 days. Both prisons that Stacy would likely be sent to—North Fraser Pre-Trial Centre and Fraser Regional Correctional Centre—have had recent COVID outbreaks. Due to Jim’s poor health, he was hospitalized in October-November 2020 after serving time in the North Fraser Pre-Trial Centre for conducting peaceful ceremony for the land.
“The outcome we are hoping for is that the sanctity of our ceremonies will be honoured, and the calls to end the racist, anti-Indigenous policies of the court will also be honoured in the pursuit of reconciliation,” says Jim. “In a classist appeal system, which is set up with financial barriers in every phase of the appeal process, it is essential for the use of trust and retainer funds to help level the playing field—making sure the appeal process is available to all citizens and not just the oil industry, politicians, and corporate czars. Any funds remaining after the resolution of our appeals will be left in place, so they are accessible for other people engaged in appealing other anti-environmental rulings by white supremacist pawns.”
“Protect the sacred. Chi-Miigwetch. All my relations,” says Stacy.
Please donate to help Jim and Stacy file their costly but important appeals! The Crown’s troubling precedents must be challenged!
Read more about their cases here.
ABOUT JIM AND STACY
Jim Leyden was born in the Six Nations territory in Brantford, Ontario, and was apprehended during the Sixties Scoop and moved outside of his home territory for adoption. After moving to Vancouver, he got involved in sweat lodge and Sundance ceremonies, ultimately becoming an Elder, Senior Sundancer, and the head Fire Keeper for Sundance chief Robert Nahanee. Upon the creation of the Watch House and nearby TMX resistance camp in 2018, he was asked to bring teachings and culture into the camp. Upon the camp’s closing, he was asked to protect the Watch House by acting as a Traditional Watchman—keeping an eye on the work being done at the tank farm, and reporting misconduct to the people and government agencies, ultimately being asked to act as the Watch House Elder. During the past 2 years, he has engaged in holding traditional ceremonies, and doing surveillance on the activities at Trans Mountain properties.
Gitchi Makwa, Makwa Indodem, Stacy Gallagher follows the Anishinaabe ways of his mother’s ancestors. He behaves according to his grandmothers’ teachings and the natural laws. His responsibility is to care for the people and follow the original instructions through the blood memory of his ancestors. He serves the people as a Fire Keeper, opwaagan (pipe) carrier, ceremonial dancer, and by upholding all his spiritual and ceremonial responsibilities. He has been up at the Watch House with the permission of Coast Salish Elders since March 2018, humbly supporting land and water protectors, and steadily respecting the Coast Salish law of Nawt’samat - One Heart, One Mind, we are all related. Following his sacred responsibilities, he works to support people on their healing journeys. When asked by his grandchildren seven generations from now, he’ll be able to answer “I’ve done everything that I could for you, my loved ones.”
BACKGROUND ON TMX
The $12.6 billion pipeline project was purchased from Texas oil giant Kinder Morgan by the Canadian government in May 2018; costs of the pipeline have ballooned since the purchase. The project was opposed in court by the Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Coldwater Indian Band, but all were recently denied leave to appeal by the Supreme Court of Canada. The TMX project also conflicts with Canada's commitment under the Paris Climate Agreement to keep global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degree Celsius. The project would impact numerous drinking water sources along the route, lead to a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic in the Burrard Inlet (threatening the endangered Southern Resident orcas), violate the self-determination of Tsleil-Waututh, Secwépemc, Qayqayt and many more First Nations, and put homes and facilities on Burnaby Mountain at risk—among them, Simon Fraser University (SFU) and Burnaby Mountain Secondary School. The Province of British Columbia, the state of Washington, and 20 municipalities along the route including Burnaby oppose the pipeline project.
The existing Trans Mountain pipeline is already a major environmental and public health hazard with a long history of disastrous spills. As recently as June 2020, 50,000 gallons of crude oil spilled from a pump station located above an aquifer that supplies the Sumas First Nation with drinking water. The thirteen 67-year old tanks at the terminus of the pipeline are too close together to put out in the event of a fire, according to the Burnaby Fire Department. Around 240,000 people live within the 4.2 km radius of the site that is considered an evacuation zone, including 32,000 members of the SFU community. A growing number of insurers have pulled out of the pipeline project amidst rising public pressure and financial risk due to climate uncertainty.
Note: This fundraiser is organized by Sam Anglum and Dana James, members of Mountain Protectors and friends of Jim and Stacy. We are grateful to be living and working on unceded Coast Salish territories. All funds will be deposited directly into a legal defense fund set up by Jim.
- Grant Malo
- equally Jim + Stacy from PPSTMX
- Stephen P Abbott
Fundraising team: Mountain Protectors (2)
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