Wet'suwet'en support protest shuts down Portage and Main
WINNIPEG -- Around 400 people shut down Portage Avenue and Main Street during the evening rush hour Monday night to rally behind pipeline opponents in Wet’suwet’en First Nation in northern B.C. Demonstrators also brought traffic to a standstill on a stretch of Edmonton Street.
“This is one of the biggest fights that we’re facing right now in Canada,” said protester Kaitlyn Duthie. “Climate change is threatening all of us. And the warriors and land defenders out in Wet’suwet’en territory are on the frontlines of this struggle.”
The rally was one of several across Canada that disrupted transportation.
“So what if you’re inconvenienced? Our people are inconvenienced all the time. Like the fact that we were arrested under bogus charges,” said community organizer and Anishinaabe activist Sadie-Phoenix Lavoie.
Last week, RCMP began arresting anti-pipeline protesters in B.C. for defying a court injunction by blocking construction of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline. The natural gas pipeline was approved by the provincial and federal government, along with 20 band councils along the route. But hereditary chiefs in Wet’suwet’en who say they have authority over the land oppose the project.
“We need to do something about climate change,” said Lavoie. “We need to do something about these pipelines. We need to protect our people.”
Around 30 protesters were arrested in Vancouver Monday, after busy ports were blocked in a show of solidarity with protesters in Wet’suwet’en. B.C. Premier John Horgan said the pipeline is economically important to the province and said the courts have made a decision.
“People have the right to speak their minds,” said Horgan. “But there is a line and that line is when you intrude on other people’s rights.”
The rally in Winnipeg only last about an hour-and-a-half. But protesters said it is part of a wider push for stronger Indigenous rights across the country.
“If we’re going to take from the land, we need to give back to the land,” said protester Karen Flatfoot.
Demonstrators vowed to keep the pressure up, unless the government backs down on the pipeline.