Hearing or Listening? Pipeline Politics and the Art of Engagement in British Columbia

  • Sarah Marie WiebeEmail author
Part of the The Politics of Intersectionality book series (POLI)


Informed by intersectionality-based policy analysis (IBPA), this chapter contributes to the study of deliberative democracy to foster dialogue about sustainable energy futures in Canada and globally. It builds upon the diverse bodies of knowledge articulated during the National Energy Board hearings for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project (TMPEP) between 2013 and 2016 in British Columbia (BC), Canada. The chapter examines the relationship between citizen knowledge, public hearings and policy-making. It raises and responds to the following questions: What are the strengths and limitations of the TMPEP public engagement process to date? How can decision-makers operationalize IBPA and take seriously citizen’s situated and felt knowledges, expressed through oral testimonies, legal traditions and stories? What does meaningful engagement with Indigenous communities on energy initiatives look now and into the future? To conclude, this chapter discusses the value of creative communication avenues such as community filmmaking to cultivate space for dialogue about sustainable energy futures. See, for example, To Fish as Formerly, a short film co-produced by members of the Tsawout Nation with guidance from Dr Nick Claxton and researchers at the University of Victoria. As part of their oral testimony in Victoria, Tsawout representatives screened the film during their 2014 intervention.



I am so grateful to Aaron Mills, Nick Claxton, James Tully and Tara Ney for numerous conversations about how to translate public spaces into meaningful avenues for the engagement of Indigenous and Western worldviews. Their insights and community involvements greatly inform and influence this chapter. The opportunity to paddle with Nick’s community, document the reef net fishing practices and witness his testimony during the pipeline expansion hearings in 2014 sparked my interest in thinking about the necessary conditions for creating meaningful spaces of engagement. I am also inspired by Jim Tully’s concept of a multilogue in Strange Multiplicity, represented through Bill Reid’s Spirit of Haida Gwaii sculpture, which serves as a reminder that moving forward as a society in pursuit of a flourishing and vibrant democracy requires respect for shifting roles and identities. Special thanks to Tara Ney who shared her personal story with me, which she presented during a local public hearing in Oak Bay, BC.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of HawaiʻiMānoaUSA

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