A large group of demonstrators brought trains to a standstill in Toronto Saturday, the latest of several actions across Canada 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.
“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.
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The Toronto demonstrators met at Dovercourt Park and moved onto the train tracks near Shanly and Hallam streets, according to Toronto Police Operations.
Shanly St + Hallam St
– protest of pipeline being built
– several people walking on or near railroad tracks
– CP rail trains have stopped travel
– officers o/s #GO273901
— Toronto Police Operations (@TPSOperations) February 8, 2020
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.