Indigenous businesses spark protests from Water Defenders

DULUTH, Minnesota — About a dozen protesters rallied near Pier B Tuesday night against the Minnesota Tribal Contractors Council’s annual fall social dinner at the hotel.

The event brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous business leaders to network and discuss the trade industry.

Tuesday’s clashes came as protesters wanted Aboriginal workers away from working for Enbridge, which built Line 3 and is building Line 5.

It was not immediately clear whether Enbridge was represented at the event.

The chairman of the committee said he felt there was a misrepresentation of events celebrating the completion of Line 3, adding that his group supported work in conventional and green energy.

He added that his campaign was about connecting Aboriginal workers and businesses for opportunities to expand external reserves.

“I wouldn’t call them protesters, I’d call them members of the public, you know,” said Jim Jones, president of the Minnesota Tribal Contractors Council. “There’s a misconception people have about what’s happening out there tonight. There’s a narrative, through you and others and social media, that it’s a celebration of a project that ended two years ago. It’s not. It’s about promoting the tribe Owned businesses and networks of those businesses, like mine… If we’re going to promote economic opportunity for our members and our tribal peoples beyond reservations, then we need to put our hands out there and say “Hey “.

Protesters outside said they were part of Water Defenders and shared information about why they were there and what they thought of Enbridge.

“I drew the tortoise and we all decided that today all our animal friends would come and remind our Native relatives of their responsibilities to the land, so today Enbridge meets with our Native American contractors, so we’re here to remind them of their responsibilities Take care of us,” Gaagigeyashiik (Dawn Goodwin) said. “We don’t want our brothers and sisters, our Native American contractors helping Enbridge destroy our land…We want to draw attention to Line 5. It needs to be closed, we need to divert from fossil fuels. We need to protect our What’s left.”

About 100 people attended the council event, Jones said.

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