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

Public engagement on North Cowichan forest reserve begins this month

Consulting firm presents engagement plan at North Cowichan council meeting

SD79 finalizes $106-million budget for 2019-20

$2.1-million increase in revenue from previous year

Tax rate hikes keep accelerating

Decision to hire an assistant fire chief after previously rejecting it not a good idea

Shellfish farm development a threat to Thetis Island

Project seems to have been quietly put forward with limited notice

Paper Excellence, owner of Crofton mill, hit by malware

Paper production in Crofton, and other mills, impacted by incident

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Massive early-morning blaze destroys Vancouver Island home

Firefighters from three departments called in to battle fire at unoccupied residence

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

VIDEO: Wounded Warrior Run leaves Port Hardy on eight-day trek down Vancouver island

The team’s fundraising goal this year is $250,000, which is double last year’s goal.

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

B.C. money laundering inquiry to begin amid hopes for answers, accountability

Eby argued that most B.C. residents already know the previous government, at best, turned a blind eye

Most Read