Opponents of a liquified natural gas pipeline in northern B.C. are rallying Wednesday in a show of support for the Wet’suwet’en nation. Protesters gathered outside the constituency office of B.C. Premier John Horgan in Langford, demanding the government recognize the authority of the hereditary Chiefs who oppose the pipeline in the Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C. Demonstrators also gathered in front of the West Shore RCMP detachment. In a release, RCMP said about 40 pipeline protesters disrupted community policing operations by blocking public access to the police building using three vehicles, although emergency operations were not affected. West Shore RCMP says community volunteers for its Speedwatch Program were unable to leave the front of the detachment in the community sponsored van. Officers also had to escort a 79-year-old volunteer for the West Shore RCMP Keep in Touch program past the protest for a scheduled meeting inside the building.
The RCMP fully support the right to peaceful and safe protest, West Shore RCMP Cpl. Chris Dovell said in a statement.
But businesses and community volunteers also have the right to conduct meetings.No arrests were made, but police reported traffic disruptions from the rallies on Veterans Memorial Parkway, Jacklin Road and Goldstream Avenue. Another rally is taking place in Vancouver, where pipeline opponents say they will deliver a letter to NDP MLA Melanie Mark, outlining their demands. Coastal GasLink says it has signed agreements with all 20 elected First Nations bands along the pipeline route to LNG Canada’s $40 billion export facility in Kitimat. But five hereditary clan chiefs within the Wet’suwet’en say the project has no authority without their consent, putting the project under scrutiny. Chief Judy Wilson of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs says hereditary chiefs often have difficulty getting their authority recognized by industry and government. While elected band councils are administrators of their reserves, the hereditary chiefs say they are in charge of the 22,000 square kilometres comprising Wet’suwet’en traditional territory, including land the pipeline would run through. With files from the Canadian Press.