‘We are obligated to protect our ways of life’
Alberta rallies in support of B.C. First Nation scheduled Pipeline fight StarMetro on the ground in Wet’suwet’en
Organizers in Calgary and Edmonton are holding rallies Tuesday in solidarity with members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation who are working to keep the RCMP and a natural gas company off their traditional territory in northern British Columbia.
Members of the nation are currently facing police removal from two checkpoints that block LNG company Coastal GasLink from entering their traditional land.
On Dec. 14, the B.C. Supreme Court granted Coastal GasLink a temporary injunction against the first checkpoint — known as the Unist’ot’en Camp — to clear the way for further construction of the pipeline.
Coastal GasLink had argued the original checkpoint effectively stalled construction on the pipeline project.
Roughly 30 rallies are being organized across Canada and parts of the United States, and even as far afield as Italy, in support of the Wet’suwet’en Nation members, according to various Facebook pages
listing the events.
They include a rally outside the headquarters of TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. — which holds Coastal GasLink as a subsidiary — in downtown Calgary at noon on Tuesday.
In recent months, Calgary has witnessed mass rallies of oil-and-gas supporters frustrated with the lack of progress on major infrastructure projects, such as the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. The city is also home to the headquarters of some of
Canada’s biggest oil and gas companies.
Michelle Robinson, a co-organizer of the Calgary event, said this makes a rally in the city even more important.
“I think for us, it’s really important from here in Calgary to have a showing of what’s happening over there is rooted from here,” she said.
In Edmonton, a rally has been organized by Climate Justice Edmonton and Indigenous Climate Action at Beaver Hills House Park for Tuesday afternoon, according to a Facebook page.
Eriel Deranger, executive director of Indigenous Climate Action, belongs to Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. She was one of the group of organizers who helped set up Unist’ot’en Camp eight years ago, which is why she says Tuesday’s rally is of “personal interest” for her.
“I’ve seen the immense beauty and the significance that the lands and territories hold. Not just for the people of Wet’suwet’en, but frankly for all of us,” she told StarMetro.
“We are now in a time of real crisis on the planet where we should be working to protect the last remaining intact biodiverse regions of the world, and that is what the Wet’suwet’en and the Unist’ot’en have been doing for the last nine years,” she said.
Despite the sometimes angry tone of Calgary’s recent oil and gas rallies, Robinson said she isn’t concerned about the safety of those who show up Tuesday.
Rally organizers have contacted TransCanada and the Calgary Police Service in advance, she said, and she doesn’t believe that pro-oil supporters are necessarily opposed to them.
For more updates, visit thestar.com/calgary
The Gidimt’en checkpoint, one of two set up by members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation.