Burlington residents march to support clean water

Wednesday in Vermont, the temperatures dropped to 15 and the water pipes still ran.

Wednesday in North Dakota, the temperatures were similarly chilled, but the water was under attack.

Just after dark, 13 students from the Burlington area marched to the waterfront in 15-degree weather March 22.

The event, hosted by senior Cheyenne Fowler, was intended as an act of support for the Water is Life campaign, because “nationwide solidarity is the key to stopping DAPL once and for all,” she said.

“As an Abenaki woman, I can’t sit by and do nothing,” Fowler said. “I am privileged enough to go to college and be part of a community that will stand behind me.”

The recent movement disputes the Dakota Access Pipeline, which affects the lives of natives in the Standing Rock Reservation along with others downstream.

This proposed project from Energy Transfer Partners would transport crude oil from fracking sites in North Dakota to Illinois, according to the DAPL website.

The website also mention that, although the pipeline would not impede directly on reservation land, it would be buried 95 feet below the Missouri River, not only posing an environmental concern, but also renewing the fracking demand in the area.

Enbridge Energy, a partner in the current project, contaminated the Kalamazoo River in Michigan when hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil spilled from a ruptured pipeline in 2010, as stated by the EPA.

The Sioux tribe, along with thousands of supporters, have gathered in protest of the project since 2014, according to a Time Magazine article published Oct. 28, 2016.

Daniel Ramos, a senior at Saint Michael’s College who participated in Wednesday’s march, noticed the call to arms when he volunteered on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation last summer, he said.

“Families picked up their lives and left to protest,” Ramos said. “It was just incredible how quickly people came together for this cause.”

The small protest group consisted of students from UVM, Champlain College, Saint Michael’s and Vermont Technical College.

Following a path all the way down College Street from Waterman Building to the waterfront, the protesters chanted phrases like “people over pipes,” and “hey hey, ho ho, DAPL has got to go.”

Heads turned, cars honked their horns in solidarity and fingers holding #NODAPL posters turned numb with cold.

With the Burlington lights glinting off the water of Lake Champlain, the group reached the bottom of the hill and took a moment of silence in solidarity.

“Water is integral to life,” Saint Michael’s graduate Meaghan Diffenderfer said. “Living here, we take it for granted; it’s our job to use our privilege to protect our Earth and stand up for those who need it.”