Stand­ing with Wet’suwet’en

Dra­matic stand­off be­tween B.C. First Na­tion and RCMP over pipe­line ac­cess sparks ral­lies across coun­try

StarMetro Calgary - - FRONT PAGE - Bren­nan Do­herty Kash­mala Fida Taryn Grant

A dra­matic con­fronta­tion be­tween RCMP and mem­bers of the Wet’suwet’en na­tion over pipe­line ac­cess in tra­di­tional ter­ri­tory in north­ern Bri­tish Co­lum­bia has spurred sol­i­dar­ity ral­lies across the coun­try.

From Ot­tawa to Yel­lowknife, Hal­i­fax to Van­cou­ver, demon­stra­tors braved win­ter weather to show their sup­port for mem­bers of the Wet’suwet’en na­tion who have been man­ning a pair of check­points that block Coastal GasLink from build­ing a pipe­line to the fu­ture site of the LNG Canada fa­cil­ity in Kiti­mat, B.C.

Dozens of heav­ily armed RCMP of­fi­cers en­forced a court in­junc­tion to re­move ob­sta­cles to the pipe­line’s con­struc­tion on Mon­day, tear­ing down bar­ri­cades and mak­ing 14 ar­rests. While the elected band coun­cil signed a $13-mil­lion agree­ment to sup­port the pipe­line, some mem­bers — and the en­tire hered­i­tary lead­er­ship of the Wet’suwet’en — op­posed the project. Cal­gary saw one of the tens­est ral­lies of the nearly 60 planned around the world Tuesday, as sup­port­ers of the land de­fend­ers gath­ered out­side Tran­sCanada’s down­town head­quar­ters at the same time as a coun­ter­protest by oil and gas sup­port­ers in favour of the liqui­fied nat­u­ral gas pipe­line that sparked the stand­off. The sol­i­dar­ity rally was held out­side Tran­sCanada’s head­quar­ters — of which Coastal GasLink is a sub­sidiary — at noon.

Out­side Tran­sCanada’s head­quar­ters in down­town Cal­gary, sev­eral dozen sup­port­ers of the Wet’suwet’en land de­fend­ers and coun­ter­protesters waved signs and chanted slo­gans at one an­other.

De­spite speak­ing into a mega­phone, rally co-or­ga­nizer Michelle Robinson was rou­tinely drowned out by chants of “Build that pipe!” and “Rule of law” from the coun­ter­protesters as she tried to ad­dress other sup­port­ers. In turn, they re­sponded with chants of “Sol­i­dar­ity! Con­sent!” and a hand­ful of sup­port­ers beat hand drums and sang. Some sup­port­ers also took part in a smudg­ing cer­e­mony, burn­ing sage and waft­ing the smoke over their bod­ies to cleanse them­selves. In­side Tran­sCanada’s atrium, a crowd of cu­ri­ous em­ploy­ees looked on.

Robinson said the sol­i­dar­ity rally wasn’t in­tended to be in op­po­si­tion to pipe­lines. In fact, she told re­porters, some Indige­nous peo­ple are sup­port­ive of them.

“SOL­I­DAR­ITY! CON­SENT!”

Demon­stra­tors

BREN­NAN DO­HERTY/STARMETRO CAL­GARY

Sup­port­ers of the Wet’suwet’en mem­bers who blocked ac­cess by the RCMP and Coastal GasLink to their tra­di­tional ter­ri­tory in north­ern B.C. protest out­side of Tran­sCanada’s head­quar­ters in down­town Cal­gary on Tuesday. Cana­di­ans across the coun­try, from Ot­tawa to Yel­lowknife, Hal­i­fax to Van­cou­ver, ral­lied Tuesday in sup­port of the Wet’suwet’en na­tion and their cause.

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