Candace Moore (far left), a member of the newly formed Wet’suwet’en Solidarity Cowichan organization, and other supporters held a demonstration in Duncan on Nov. 26 in support of the Wet’suwet’en Nation’s fight against Coastal GasLink and its pipeline. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Candace Moore (far left), a member of the newly formed Wet’suwet’en Solidarity Cowichan organization, and other supporters held a demonstration in Duncan on Nov. 26 in support of the Wet’suwet’en Nation’s fight against Coastal GasLink and its pipeline. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Wet’suwet’en supporters take to streets in Duncan

Demonstrators say action by police and gas company on First Nation’s land is illegal

A newly formed group, Wet’suwet’en Solidarity Cowichan, took to the streets in Duncan on Nov. 26 to stand in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en Nation and its supporters at the Coastal GasLink pipeline construction site in northwest B.C.

At first, just a few members of the WSC stood on the four corners at the busy intersection where Trunk Road meets the Trans-Canada Highway around noon waving signs in support of the protesters at the construction site, located on Wet’suwet’en land near Burns Lake, but they were joined by many more over the next hour.

RELATED STORY: B.C. FIRST NATION EVICTS COASTAL GASLINK FROM WET’SUWET’EN TERRITORY

Candace Moore, one of the founders of the WSC, said the group was formed by members of the Cowichan community who are very concerned about the ongoing colonialist attitudes by police, Coastal GasLink and government officials during the dispute.

“For me, this is an opportunity to really work on reconciliation instead of just talking about it for 20 years,” Moore said as cars honked their horns in support of the protesters.

“This is our first action. We’re waiting for an official blessing from the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en for our name and to fundraise to help the defenders of the land there.”

RELATED STORY: B.C. SUPREME COURT REJECT WET’SUWET’EN BID TO TOSS LNG PIPELINE CERTIFICATE

On Nov. 14, the Wet’suwet’en issued notice they would be setting up a blockade to enforce the eviction of Coastal GasLink workers from its territory.

The Wet’suwet’en are opposed to plans for the company’s pipeline to go through its territory.

If completed, the pipeline will span 670 kilometres across northern B.C., transporting natural gas from near Dawson Creek in the east to Kitimat on the Pacific Ocean.

Coastal GasLink has signed benefit agreements with 20 band councils along the route of the project, but Wet’suwet’en’s hereditary leadership says band councils do not have authority over land beyond reserve boundaries.

On Nov. 18, the RCMP arrived in the region to take part in what they called a “rescue mission” of more than 500 workers who the company said were unable to get food, water or supplies because of the blockade.

The police arrested at least 29 protesters, along with two journalists, but all have since been released under conditions and are expected to reappear in court on Feb. 14.

RELATED STORY: ALL ARRESTED AT COASTAL GASLINK PIPELINE BLOCKADE RELEASED UNDER CONDITIONS

Roger Crowther, another member of the WSC, said Friday’s action in Duncan was meant to draw the public’s attention to the military-style invasion of the RCMP on Wet’suwet’en lands.

He said that despite claiming to be committed to reconciliation, B.C. Premier John Horgan and the NDP government have ignored their obligations under the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People’s Act.

“Instead of working with the Wet’suwet’en, they continue making top-down, colonial-like decisions that perpetuate systemic racism and erode reconciliation,” Crowther said while waving a sign at the intersection.

He said similar demonstrations and actions are being taken across the country in support of the Wet’suwet’en.

For more information, check out the WSC’s Facebook page.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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