Instead of cars, priests and congregants occupied a TD Bank's parking lot Saturday, protesting the institution's funding of an oil pipeline.
Anglican priests Gwen McAllister and Jane Barter led a short service outside the bank's St. Anne's Road location. Over 30 people listened to the service, holding signs like "You can't drink oil! Stop Line 3."
"What I would like is for TD to become embarrassed enough about their participation in this awful project to choose to withdraw their funding from it," McAllister said post-service. "(Then) other banks would see that as well."
Line 3 is a 1,097-mile crude oil pipeline that extends from Edmonton, Alta., to Superior, Wis., It cuts through part of southwestern Manitoba.
Enbridge, a Calgary-based energy company, has been replacing and expanding the pipeline. Protesters have gathered in Minnesota, citing the climate crisis and intrusion of Indigenous lands as reasons to stop the project.
"I believe there is a lot of people in the churches who care deeply about the earth, care deeply about Indigenous issues and aren't really sure what we can do," McAllister said. "If we can do something, even symbolic... I think it gives people hope and courage."
Saturday's event was the group's third peaceful protest. Many religious groups have banded together over the issue: Mennonites held a protest outside TD Bank on Sherbrook Street in August, and Quakers conducted a silent service outside the bank on Corydon Avenue.
"The recent finding of the graves of residential schools helps bring to light how important it is for the church, if we want to be on the side of life in any way, to not only be able to repent of what's happened in the past, but (notice) what we are complicit of in the present," McAllister said.
The church needs to adjust its actions to meet its goals for the future, she said.
"(We're) against what is happening when land is being taken from Anishinaabe territory," she said.
The proposed pipeline threatens wild rice areas important to the Anishinaabe, according to the Sierra Club North Star Chapter, a Minnesota environmental group. The line crosses more than 200 water bodies and 75 miles of wetlands, it said.
Saturday's attendees stayed masked and socially distanced. Many accepted communion, bread that symbolizes Jesus Christ's body, from tongs. A golden cross stood nearby.
"When people are profiting off the loss of others... the witness of communion stands against that," McAllister said.
Chris Regehr said he attended because he's watched people in Minnesota put their bodies on the line to protest the pipeline, and he wanted to show his solidarity.
"To be continuing to fund fossil fuels just doesn't seem like the right choice at this time," he said. "I think these (protests) are called for."
Oliver Capko, who's Catholic, said attending is putting his faith into action.
"(It's) to invest in people," he said.
The original Line 3 pipeline was built in the 1960s. The new version seeks to move about 370,000 barrels of crude oil per day to the United States, according to CBC.
Hundreds connected to pipeline protests have been arrested in the United States.
Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.