Protesters block B.C. government building entrance to support Wet’suwet’en First Nation

A letter with four demands was delivered to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

More than 20 Indigenous youth blocked the entrance to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources in Victoria to deliver a message to the Minister Michelle Mungall and Premier John Horgan.

Protesters have been on site since around noon and according to Nigel Robinson, they’re planning on occupying the building until “all [their] demands are met.”

Earlier on Tuesday, the protesters delivered a letter to Mungall that stated Indigenous youth were not only inheriting a climate crisis “driven by fossil fuel projects like [Coastal GasLink] CGL, but Canada’s legacy of colonization, genocide and gendered violence against Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people.” In other words, they are supporting Wet’suwet’en sovereignty and opposing RCMP actions.

“Canada’s siege and invasion of those territories that have not given consent for Coastal GasLinks operation. It’s unconstitutional, it is illegal, it is immoral and it is shameful. Canada can not continue to uphold the status quo of indigenous genocide when moving forward with natural resource projects that impact Indigenous youth first and foremost,” said Ta’Kiya Blaney, while seated in the middle of the group.

Ta’Kiya Blaney was one of the protesters at the demonstration on Tuesday, she wants to see the demands of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs upheld, observed and respected. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast. The company has signed agreements with all 20 elected First Nation councils along its path, but the hereditary clan chiefs who are leaders under the traditional form of governance say the project has no authority without their consent.

Last year, the conflict inspired rallies across the country when RCMP enforced an injunction and arrested 14 supporters of the hereditary chiefs who blocked access to a logging road leading to the work site on Wet’suwet’en traditional territory.

The B.C. Supreme Court expanded the injunction Dec. 31 and the hereditary clan chiefs responded with an eviction notice to Coastal GasLink, leading to a new standoff.

A group of about 20 protesters blocked the entrance to the Minsitry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources building in Victoria on Tuesday in a show of solidarity for the Wet’suwet’en First Nation. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

“The RCMP and CGL] are violating Wet’suwet’en law, they’re not speaking … with the hereditary chiefs, when that is the conversation that needed to happen years ago,” said Kolin Sutherland-Wilson. “And yet, they think they can bulldoze through the territory, through the rights of the Wet’suwet’en people in order to enforce a project that they do not consent to.”

RELATED: UPDATED: One-sailing wait from Swartz Bay ferry terminal after morning protest

The letter includes two demands made by protesters. The first is that the demands of the Hereditary Chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation be upheld, observed and respected by the federal and provincial governments. Secondly, they ask an appointment be made by Premier Horgan to meet with the hereditary chiefs.

“B.C. conducted extensive consultations with Indigenous Nations and has also signed agreements with the vast majority of Indigenous communities along the route,” reads a statement provided by the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.

In addition, the statement highlights the fact that Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, will be traveling to Smithers on Wednesday to meet with the Hereditary Chiefs, as proposed by the Premier.

“Separately, the government has been engaged in the current discussions with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs on reconciliation since early 2019. It’s important to note that these talks are not related to any specific project but are focused on building our relationship and meaningfully advancing reconciliation,” the statement continues.

RELATED: B.C. hereditary chiefs ban Coastal GasLink from Wet’suwet’en lands

Just over 20 days into the new year and more than 45 international actions have taken place in support of the Wet’suwet’en Nation. On Monday protesters blocked the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal in a show of solidarity, with a small portion of them in attendance at Tuesday’s demonstration.

According to Blaney, the demonstrations are independent with no direct or indirect contact with the Wet’suwet’en Nation.

“This is solidarity, we act as our own people,” she said.

With files from The Canadian Press



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

protest

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Kolin Sutherland-Wilson sings a traditional Wet’suwet’en song at the protest on Tuesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

A video of the protest was live-streamed to the Indigenous Climate Action facebook page. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

Just Posted

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

Skeena Bulkley Valley MP calling for halt on sport fishing licenses to out-of-province fishers

Bachrach and Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns co-signed the letter to the Minister of Fisheries

Bella Coola Heli Sports closed, says no confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in their operation

The company has committed to informing the community if a case is reported

COVID-19 case confirmed at Subway restaurant in Cache Creek

Customers who visited the site from March 25 to 27 are asked to self-isolate

Here’s how to talk to people who aren’t taking physical distancing seriously

Approach the conversation with empathy says conflict expert

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. child psychologist says your parenting approach can’t be one-size fits all in social isolation

B.C. begins taking submissions for $2M COVID-19 research fund

Rural health, impact of shifting hospital resources among priorities

Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start: Tam

Health officials had previously not recommended wearing them

Most Read