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Energy Giant Serves Vancouver Poet & Professor Stephen Collis $5.6 Million Lawsuit for Opposing Pipeline Expansion

By Harriet Staff


Another important item from the new issue of Lana Turner is this “Letter From Vancouver,” which states that poet, professor, and activist Stephen Collis–along with a protest group called The Caretakers–is being sued by Canadian energy giant Kinder Morgan for close to 6 million dollars. The company has served Collis and four others “for their part in opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline and terminal expansion,” writes British Columbia’s CBC News. The letter at LT, penned by Amy De’Ath, is a call for signatures from the poetry community:

07 November 2014

The Vancouver poet Stephen Collis has recently been part of a group of dedicated land defenders protecting Burnaby Mountain, on unceded Coast Salish territories, against the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain oil pipeline. Now Texas-based Kinder Morgan – the largest energy transmission company in North America – has served five of these activists, including Stephen, with a $5.6 million dollar lawsuit. Kinder Morgan is seeking an injunction to halt protests on Burnaby Mountain against its surveying work for the Trans Mountain Pipeline.

The trial is now pressing ahead. On Wednesday [Nov. 5] Kinder Morgan’s lawyer referred to what he called a poem by Stephen (actually more of a blog post, but a poem nonetheless!) as evidence against him. Kinder Morgan’s lawyer also referred to the “angry, even violent facial expressions” of the protestors as as an assault on the company. #KMface quickly became an online meme of selfies with angry facial expressions. Wednesday also saw a large rally at the courthouse with a contingent from Simon Fraser University, where Collis teaches, in support of the land defenders and activists. SFU faculty and students are outraged by the case.

The Georgia Straight, Vancouver’s free weekly news and entertainment paper, have indicated that they will publish an open letter to help us speak up in support for those facing legal proceedings this week. Stephen and the other protestors need support from the poetry community, so please sign your name here to our letter of petition in support of their rights to free speech and protest on public land.

More from the Vancouver Observer, reporting from outside the B.C. Supreme Court last Wednesday:

Pavsek says Kinder Morgan made a strategic error in naming these two professors in its court applications. The reaction it has caused on campus appears to have earned the company more detractors, he said.

“It’s been a pretty galvanizing thing that Lynne and Stephen were named in this legal action,” said [Christopher Pavsek, an associate professor of film].


The $5.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion would triple the flow of Alberta oil that is currently transported on the company’s decades-old pipeline. The project would enable more than 400 super tankers per year to be loaded at a terminal not far from SFU’s Burnaby Mountain campus.

An aerial view of the Simon Fraser University campus at top. Follow Stephen Collis @stephenscollis for updates. To add your signature to those in support, visit their petition at change.org.

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Posted in Poetry News on Tuesday, November 11th, 2014 by Harriet Staff.