Indigenous youth gathered on the front steps of the legislature in Victoria and addressed the public on the ongoing protests around the country in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.
The group has been camping on property for the last few days and on Wednesday morning, they delivered the message that the road blockades and activism across Canada will continue until construction of a Northern BC pipeline is halted.
“We are not anti-pipeline protesters, we are Indigenous,” said one of the speakers to a crowd of nearly one hundred people.
The youth have been occupying the Legislature, sleeping on property overnight, amid an injunction being issued that authorizes police to arrest and remove people blocking legislature entrances.
Although each individual shared different stories, the underlying message was the same: The disruptions will continue and the feeling that reconciliation is a “colonial facade” of the Canadian government.
“We stand with Indigenous land defenders everywhere who are getting criminalized by unconstitutional injunctions for simply occupying their traditional territory and abiding by our ancestral laws and government systems,” said activist Ta’Kaiya Blaney. “As Indigenous youth, we declare that reconciliation is dead and that we set the terms for Canada’s relationship with us.”
The crowd that gathered to hear the message included officers from Victoria Police Department, however, the public address was non-violent and arrests were not made during the speeches.
“We are not moved by anger, we are moved by something greater than us,” Blaney said. “The love for our lands and our waters that compels us to do what is necessary so future generations of Indigenous youth never have to face armed police on their own territories.”
The Wet’suwet’en protests around Victoria in the previous months have included occupying government offices and blockading bridges and the message delivered from the youth onsite is that these demonstrations will continue.
Victoria police have also warned of a possible blockade from protesters Wednesday along the Pat Bay Highway
This is an ongoing story, check back for updates.