Demonstrators block bridges, stop trains in support of Wet'suwet'en land defenders

Feb 8 2020, 3:41 pm

Protesters in Vancouver blocked access to the port Saturday, while demonstrators in Toronto assembled on some tracks and stopped trains in the city.

It’s the latest in a series of actions across the country supporting Wet’suwet’en land defenders as Mounties remove them from a pipeline construction route in northern BC.

The RCMP have been enforcing a court order in recent days that allows Coastal GasLink to continue construction on its new liquified natural gas pipeline that crosses Wet’suwet’en territory to transport product to port in Kitimat, BC.

Some Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their allies opposed to the pipeline have set up a camp called Unist’ot’en on traditional Wet’suwet’en territory in the construction path.

At least six people at the camp have been arrested this week, and police have detained journalists trying to document what’s happening.

“The RCMP are executing an illegal invasion of territory over which they have no jurisdiction,” Toronto demonstration organizers wrote, referring to the idea that First Nations like the Wet’suwet’en have sovereign control over their own lands.

“We are witnessing colonial violence in real-time. Everything you’ve heard from Canadian governments or the RCMP about ‘reconciliation’, ‘nation-to-nation talks’, or ‘consultation’ is a lie,” they continued.

Many elected Wet’suwet’en chiefs have signed benefit agreements permitting the pipeline’s construction. But several hereditary chiefs oppose the pipeline.

Elected chiefs are part of a system of governance outlined in the Indian Act, but Wet’suwet’en people have followed a hereditary clan system for hundreds of years. That’s why the hereditary chiefs who oppose the pipeline say they’re the ones who need to give consent for Coastal GasLink to cross the territory.

The Toronto demonstrators met at Dovercourt Park and moved onto the train tracks near Shanly and Hallam streets, according to Toronto Police Operations.

Meanwhile, in Vancouver, a group of protesters blocked bridges accessing the Port of Vancouver.

It follows other port blockades in Vancouver this week, as well as the interruption of VIA Rail service between Montreal and Toronto because of protesters on the tracks Friday.