A rally in support of members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation who were blocking access to a pipeline project that would be in their traditional territory was held at the B.C. legislature in Victoria at noon on Tuesday. The group “Rise and Resist” organized the rally and hundreds showed up, blocking traffic around Belleville and Government streets. The protest then headed north to Finance Minister Carole James’ office on Fort Street.
“Our message is clear: Indigenous law is the law of the land on unceded territories, and traditional title-holders have the right to refuse access to their lands. Disregarding this ancient law in order to further expand fossil fuel production during a time of extreme climate crisis is totally unacceptable. Agents of the corporate state will face resistance if they continue to pursue resource colonialism during this climate emergency,” the group wrote on their Facebook page. Members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation had established two camps along the forest service road with fortified checkpoints: Gidimt’en and Unist’ot’en. On Monday, 14 people were taken into custody after RCMP entered a fortified checkpoint at the Gidimt’en camp on a forest service road near Houston, B.C. The RCMP were enforcing a court injunction, granted in December, ordering people to stop preventing TransCanada subsidiary Coastal GasLink from gaining access to the road and a bridge. The members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation who had established the camp had been preventing Coastal GasLink workers from getting through their checkpoints, saying they could only pass with consent from hereditary leaders. Coastal GasLink says it has signed agreements with all First Nations along the route for LNG Canada’s $40 billion liquefied natural gas project in Kitimat, but demonstrators argue Wet’suwet’en house chiefs, who are hereditary rather than elected, have not given consent. LNG Canada announced in October that it was moving ahead with its plans for the Kitimat export facility. Construction on the 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline – slated to cost $6.2 billion – is scheduled to begin this month. There were also protests in other parts of the country on Tuesday to back members of the First Nation who oppose the pipeline. In Ottawa, protesters blocked a major intersection near Parliament Hill and roads were also blocked in downtown Vancouver to accommodate demonstrators outside the B.C. Supreme Court. With files from CBC and The Canadian Press
The protesters are now at Vancouver and Fort Streets. #yyjtraffic— Victoria Police (@vicpdcanada) January 8, 2019