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Canada’s spy agency has been watching Standing Rock and thinks it has Canadian implications

CSIS believes the protests in North Dakota and cases of pipeline sabotage have implications for Canada
A Native American man leads a protest march with veterans and activists outside the Oceti Sakowin camp where "water protectors" continue to demonstrate against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline adjacent to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S., December 5, 2016. Picture taken December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Yang - RTX2WC9B

Two secret reports on Standing Rock obtained by VICE News show the Canadian spy agency has been monitoring the protest camps and acts of pipeline sabotage in the U.S. and believes they have Canadian implications. The documents shed light on how Canada’s security apparatus viewed the massive mobilization of opposition to the $3-8-billion Dakota Access Pipeline, which the protesters said will destroy sacred sites of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and threaten their water supply.


In one document dated Sept 22, 2016, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) states “there is strong Canadian Aboriginal support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as many see similarities to their own struggles against proposed pipeline construction in Canada (Northern Gateway, Pacific Trails, Energy East, etc.).”

The intelligence service also writes that there is a Canadian dimension to the “co-ordinated sabotage in support of Standing Rock.”

“Co-ordinated sabotage in support of Standing Rock.”

A second report detailing a series of pipelines that were shut down by Climate Direct Action protesters across the U.S. notes: “Four of the CDA’s actions targeted Canadian-owned pipelines: Enbridge (Lines 4 and 67), TransCanada (Keystone Pipeline) and Spectra Energy Partners (Express Pipeline).” At the time the reports were authored, the Standing Rock resistance was gaining steam, with as many as 10,000 people descending on the reservation to lend their support in November. Police cleared the main camps in mid-February, and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is now waging its battle in court.

Meanwhile in Canada, Indigenous leaders have said for years that tensions could erupt around pipelines, including the recently-approved TransMountain pipeline from Alberta to B.C.’s coast and proposed Energy East, which would run from Alberta to the east coast.

“Media reports indicate that at least two Canadians have been arrested to date, and charged with offences including criminal trespass, disorderly conduct, and reckless endangerment. Open information suggests that Canadian Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals had planned on travelling to the camp this past weekend,” the September report states.


“While camp members claim to be non-violent, dozens of protesters have been arrested for trespass, mischief, assault, and vandalism near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation. Several violent clashes have occurred over the past month between protesters and law enforcement and private security guards,” the report says.

CSIS notes that there are “significant” law enforcement resources on the ground, including 100 National Guard troops, and the movement “continues to receive strong support on social media and from a range of celebrities.”

It adds: “More recently, the entire issue has reached mainstream American media and is increasingly discussed within the context of the upcoming presidential election.”

The agency has also been watching cases of pipeline sabotage in the U.S. relating to Standing Rock. While its report on pipeline sabotage was heavily redacted, one section does make mention of several pipelines that were shut down for several hours.

“More recently, the entire issue has reached mainstream American media and is increasingly discussed within the context of the upcoming presidential election.”

In mid-October, Climate Direct Action protesters broke into sites in Washington, Montana, Minnesota and North Dakota and shut down five major pipelines that cross the Canada-U.S. border in an act of solidarity with Standing Rock.

“Given the potential ramifications of the actions and implications for the security of critical infrastructure, a White House official claimed that both the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and Transportation are investigating,” the CSIS report says.

“One of the [Climate Direct Action] founders asserts that ‘…there is no plan of action, policy or strategy being advanced now by any political leader, climate action group of environmental organization playing by the rules that does anything but acquiesce to ruin. Our only hope is to step outside polite conversation and put our bodies and ourselves in the way. We must shut it down, starting with the most immediate threats; oil sands fuels and coal,’” the report states. Activists have also sabotaged pipelines in Canada. In December 2015, amid a string of similar incidents, three people locked themselves to Enbridge’s Line 9 and shut it down.