A personal account of one man’s confrontation with colonization that illuminates the philosophy and values of a First Nation on the front lines of the fight against an extractive industry, colonial government, and threats to the life-giving Salish Sea.
It Stops Here is the profound story of the spiritual, cultural, and political resurgence of a nation taking action to reclaim their lands, waters, law, and food systems in the face of colonization. In deeply moving testimony, it recounts the intergenerational struggle of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation to overcome colonial harms and the powerful stance they have taken alongside allies and other Indigenous nations across Turtle Island against the development of the Trans Mountain Pipeline—a fossil fuel megaproject on their unceded territories.
In a firsthand account of the resurgence told by Rueben George, one of the most prominent leaders of the widespread opposition to the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, It Stops Here reveals extraordinary insights and revelations from someone who has devoted more than a decade of his life to fighting the project. Rueben shares stories about his family’s deep ancestral connections to their unceded lands and waters, which are today more commonly known as Vancouver, British Columbia and the Burrard Inlet. He discloses how, following the systematic cultural genocide enacted by the colonial state, key leaders of his community, such as his grandfather, Chief Dan George, always taught the younger generations to be proud of who they were and to remember the importance of their connection to the inlet.
Part memoir, part call to action, It Stops Here is a compelling appeal to prioritize the sacred over oil and extractive industries, while insisting that settler society honour Indigenous law and jurisdiction over unceded territories rather than exploiting lands and reducing them to their natural resources.
About the authors
RUEBEN GEORGE is a Sun Dance Chief and a member of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation (TWN). After working as a family counsellor for twenty years, he became manager of the TWN’s Sacred Trust initiative to protect the unceded Tsleil-Waututh lands and waters from the proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion. Over the past decade, he has travelled across the world and built alliances with Indigenous people fighting to protect waters, lands, and Indigenous rights, and has become an internationally renowned advocate for these issues. Rueben incorporates his cultural and spiritual teachings in all aspects of his life and work. MICHAEL SIMPSON is Lecturer in the School of Geography & Sustainable Development at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.
“Separation from the natural world that supports and sustains us is a profound trauma, one in need of collective healing. This book—abundant with love for both people and the land—is powerful medicine. On each welcoming page, we come to know a leader in the purest sense of the word: accountable, honest, vulnerable, and guided by an unwavering and radically inclusive vision. Gradually, we glimpse the beautiful world before and beyond the one crumbling all around.”
—Naomi Klein, New York Times bestselling author of This Changes Everything and On Fire
“It Stops Here is an eloquent memoir relating the tribulations, struggles, and redemption of an extraordinary individual, and also of a family, a nation, and a land. In telling his personal story, Rueben George makes an impassioned plea for the future of us all.”
—Gabor Maté, New York Times bestselling author of The Myth of Normal
“Rueben George is a powerful voice on behalf of his people, their culture, and territory. In defending his land, he is fighting for all people who care about Mother Earth and a future for our children and grandchildren. Read this book to understand why he is a land defender battling on behalf of all of us.”
—David Suzuki, environmentalist and broadcaster
“I’ve met many remarkable activists around the world, but none any deeper or wiser or more committed than Rueben George. This fine book will give you a glimpse into his kind and open heart, and in the process perhaps make it easier for you to work hard with others on the great project of our time: building a habitable and fair planet that all can share.”
—Bill McKibben, founder of Third Act and author of Earth and Oil and Honey
“Rueben George is a force of nature—literally. He is carrying on his family’s long history protecting nature in all its forms. Devastating extractive practices in the form of pipelines, mining, clearcutting, and overfishing threatens the health, safety, and wellbeing to Indigenous lands, waters, and all of nature. Rueben’s book is a powerful call to action rooted in the teachings of his ancestors, to gather warriors from all nations and take back control over our collective futures.”
—Dr. Pamela Palmater, Mi'kmaw lawyer, professor, and Indigenous rights advocate from Eel River Bar First Nation