Friday, 22 March, 2019

Halifax demonstrators rally in support of B.C. First Nations pipeline blockade

Locals protest B.C. RCMP action RCMP to break up northern B.C. First Nation's pipeline checkpoints Monday
Russell Knight | 09 January, 2019, 20:54

Pipeline protests in support of a native blockade in Northern B.C. drew hundreds of people in B.C., Tuesday. A speech by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, where he was planning talk about First Nations self-government, was delayed by RCMP after demonstrators showed up at the building.

Pipeline supporters shout behind a police line in downtown Calgary on Tuesday.

Trudeau's address was subsequently moved to another government building close to Parliament Hill later Tuesday.

"The RCMP respects and protects the right to peaceful demonstrations as guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms", it said.

The national chief of the Assembly of First Nations said the use of police force against people peacefully protesting the construction of the pipeline is a violation of their human and Aboriginal rights.

RCMP's E Division said officers spoke with representatives from the camp about removing the obstruction set up along the service road.

There were at least 12 confirmed arrests, including an elder, and Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs were blocked from their own territories.

In a video posted online earlier in the day Molly Wickham, spokeswoman for the Cas Yex house, which is part of the Gidimt'en clan, said, "We're doing everything that we can to make sure that we're going to be safe".

"What happened today is that our trespass laws were broken, but according to Canadian law, which is being steered by industry, they say that these people are now criminals", said Wet'suwet'en Chief Namoks streamed on Facebook Live.

Coastal GasLink said it has signed agreements with 20 elected First Nations along the pipeline route, including the Wet'suwet'en. This is their home and if any non-indigenous person had a right-of-way going through their home, it would be contradictory to have the police forcibly remove them but this is done to our people on a regular basis. She said an elder arrested on Monday had already been released.

Terry Cunha, a spokesman for TransCanada, said the enforcement of the order was "taken as a last resort and a necessary action after years of attempting to engage the camp" to find a solution.

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She said she believes the issue is gaining attention now because the Gidimt'en have dispelled the myth that it's only individuals from one clan opposing the project. "Would you do that to China or Italy or another sovereign nation?"

The MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley says he's happy with the peace protesters have maintained throughout their demonstrations. He estimated about 200 police officers were used to enforce the court injunction.

Speaking to NEWS 1130 following his visit to an exclusion zone set up by Mounties near the blockade, Nathan Cullen says he's spoken to protesters, the RCMP, and the company behind the LNG pipeline to ensure things remain calm.

LNG Canada announced on October 2 that its joint venture participants had taken a positive investment decision to construct the Kitimat export facility.

The nation's five clans, including hereditary chiefs, say the band council does not have jurisdiction over the entire 22,000 square kilometres of their traditional territory.

In a notice of civil claim filed November 23, Coastal GasLink says construction on the pipeline is scheduled to begin this month for completion in 2021.

Protesters marched through downtown Toronto, chanting "TransCanada has got to go" and brought afternoon traffic to a halt.

Those in attendance voiced their opposition to the events in B.C. and performed traditional Indigenous rituals such as smudging, a ceremony that involves the burning of sacred herbs.

"This is wrong and we have to stop it".

"Do we want to violate the United Nations declaration on indigenous rights or do we want to uphold it?"

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