A group of demonstrators blocked bridges accessing the Port of Vancouver Saturday morning in support of a group of Wet’suwet’en hereditary leaders and their allies trying to prevent pipeline construction in their traditional territory in northern BC.
The RCMP have been enforcing an injunction against the group of land defenders in recent days, arresting them and detaining members of the media trying to document what’s happening.
As journalists, we never want to be the story.
But when police threaten to arrest journalists for trying to inform the public, we are all a little less free.
— Canadian Association of Journalists (@caj) February 7, 2020
The demonstrators in Vancouver take issue with the heavily armed police officers forcibly removing land defenders from unceded Wet’suwet’en lands.
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The conflict surrounds construction of a Coastal GasLink liquified natural gas pipeline crossing Wet’suwet’en territory. The pipe would transport LNG from oil fields in BC to port in Kitimat.
Many elected Wet’suwet’en chiefs have signed benefit agreements permitting the pipeline’s construction. But several hereditary chiefs oppose the pipeline, and their supporters are preventing construction by occupying Wet’suwet’en land at the Unist’ot’en land defender camp along the pipeline route.
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.
Saturday’s demonstration in Vancouver follows action across the country in support of the Wet’suwet’en land defenders.