Hundreds gather to protest pipeline, treatment of First Nations
Hundreds of people turned out to a peaceful protest of the LNG pipeline expansion, and the treatment of First Nations in the area.
The rally, organized by Rise and Resist, began at the BC Legislature at noon on Tuesday, January 8th, where people gathered to show their support for the Wet'suwet'en people, who's unceded territory is being used to run the 670 km long pipeline from Dawson Creek to Kitimat.
On Monday, January 7th, 14 protestors were arrested when they tried to block RCMP, who had a BC Supreme Court injunction, from crossing into the territory.
The hundreds of supporters marched from the Legislature, East on Belleville, North on Douglas, then East on Fort, until they reached the office of Carole James, MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill. There they chanted, sang and gave speeches. They tried to get James to come out of her office, but she wasn't there, and the crowd called her phone and left a message instead.
The protest in downtown Victoria was one of 55 planned across the world, and spokesperson for Rise and Resist, Rama Dela Rosa, was very impressed by the turnout. "I feel like it was a huge success. There was a lot of emotion. It was very triggering to see the violence that we saw happen to the Wet'suwet'en on their sovereign territory. People came with a lot of fear and grief and anger, and what I see today is unity, and I see joy, resilience and persistence. And this is just the beginning."
Many of the participants were there to protest the pipeline, but most of them were there to show their support to the Wet'suwet'en, who are being pushed off their land for the pipeline.
One of the protestors, Chief Don Tom of the Tsarlip First Nation, says the RCMP's decision to crack down on protesters in Northern BC was wrong. "I think when government and RCMP make decisions like this, and they are the wrong decision, I think there needs to be some form of accountability towards the courts or towards the government when they forcibly remove First Nations from their own lands."
Chevy James is with a Saskatchewan First Nation and says Canada should be holding itself in a higher regard on this issue and we aren't doing that. "I think that they're breaking the United Nations Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by deploying armed Canadian service members against Indigenous grandmothers on their own territory. It's an unnecessary use of force, and I'm seeking global condemnation to that action."
The protest lasted until 3:00 in the afternoon, and while most of the crowd dispersed after the speeches in front of James's office, many went to the Victoria Courthouse to hold a 24 hour protest camp out.