Supporters of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs plan to stay at Legislature for ‘as long as necessary’

Supporters of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs gathered for a rally Saturday afternoon at the B.C. Legislature. Supporters have been there since Thursday. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Daniel John, Arthur Charlie the Fourth and Sarah Robinson sit on the steps of the B.C. Legislature with drums as supporters of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs gathered for a rally Saturday afternoon. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Supporters of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs gathered for a rally Saturday afternoon at the B.C. Legislature. Supporters have been there since Thursday. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Daniel John and Sarah Robinson drum as supporters of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs gathered for a rally Saturday afternoon at the B.C. Legislature. Supporters have been there since Thursday. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Supporters of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs gathered for a rally Saturday afternoon at the B.C. Legislature. Supporters have been there since Thursday. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Supporters of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs gathered for a rally Saturday afternoon at the B.C. Legislature. Supporters have been there since Thursday. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Supporters of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs gathered for a rally Saturday afternoon at the B.C. Legislature. Supporters have been there since Thursday. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

Supporters of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs are prepared to stay on the steps of the B.C. legislature for “as long as necessary” as the group joins demonstrations across the country to try and stop a natural gas pipeline project in northern B.C.

Supplies like food, blankets and sleeping bags remained alongside the group – who call themselves land defenders – on Saturday and a crowd of supporters gathered in front of the legislature building in the afternoon to hear a live update from Wet’suwet’en.

The supporters have been there since Thursday and have kept a ceremonial fire burning as well.

One of the land defenders, Kolin Sutherland-Wilson, said the fire is what keeps them connected with Wet’suwet’en and the other demonstrations across Canada.

READ ALSO: RCMP continue to enforce injunction against Wet’suwet’en

“The fire is an act of solidarity with all the front lines across the nation. All of our sacred fires are linked through ceremony and through prayer and it is a symbol of our connection to our ancestors,” Sutherland-Wilson said. “For us here on this legislature step, it is a symbol of our unity as Indigenous peoples.”

RCMP continue to enforce a court-ordered injunction against the five Wet’suwet’en clans and their supporters in northern B.C. On Saturday, police reached the final camp along the only access road that leads to the project’s construction site.

Two of the three camps were dismantled by RCMP on Friday. Six people were arrested Thursday and another four were arrested on Friday. One of those arrested was Sutherland-Wilson’s younger brother.

“Our people are standing up for what they believe in, because our laws, we believe in them very intimately,” Sutherland-Wilson said. “They’re a part of who we are, they are our teachings that have been passed down from generation to generation.”

Sutherland-Wilson emphasized that they are not anti-pipeline protestors, saying that they are there to uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples and the laws of the Wet’suwet’en.

“We are trying to reverse the course of colonialism in Canada,” Sutherland-Wilson said.

Just before 3 p.m. Saturday, Victoria police tweeted that traffic was disrupted at the intersection of Fort and Douglas Streets as well as on the Johnson Street Bridge as demonstrators had blocked traffic.

READ ALSO: UPDATED: Demonstrators settle in ‘for the long haul’ at BC Legislature, RBC bank

The forestry road where RCMP are in northern B.C. is part of an exclusion zone, only allowing officers, hereditary chiefs or elected officials and media through the checkpoint first implemented at the 27-kilometre mark.

The checkpoint has since been pushed back to near the entrance of the forestry road after the original access point was blockaded twice. RCMP said metal spikes were placed on the forestry road, interfering with a police vehicle transporting people who were arrested.

On Tuesday, a throne speech is to take place at the B.C. legislature. Sutherland-Wilson said the supporters could still be there, depending on what happens to the Wet’suwet’en.

“Our intention was always to stay here as long as necessary until this invasion of Wet’suwet’en is called off,” he said. “If it comes to Tuesday and the invasion is ongoing we will be here.”

With files from Ashley Wadhwani and The Canadian Press

shalu.mehta@blackpress.ca


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Spring shift in service includes no weekend late night bus services in Greater Victoria

Annual shift into spring sees additional decrease in frequency on multiple routes

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

UVic Vikes new basketball coach on the fast track

At 26, Shalie Dheensaw assumed head coaching role

No more ferries will sail from Departure Bay, Mill Bay, Brentwood Bay during COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Ferries announces major changes to sailing schedules for 60 days starting Saturday, April 4

Greater Victoria liquor stores see spike in sales amidst COVID-19

Customers are buying go-to products in larger quantities

VIDEO: ‘Used gloves and masks go in the garbage,’ says irked B.C. mayor

Health officials have said single-use gloves won’t do much to curb the spread of COVID-19

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

POLL: Will you be able to make your rent or mortgage payment this month?

With the COVID-19 delivering a devastating blow to the global economy, and… Continue reading

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Black Press Media ad sparks discussion about value of community newspapers

White Rock resident hopes front-page note shines light on revenue loss during COVID-19 crisis

Nanaimo man arrested after allegedly setting house fire

Firefighters arrived to find mobile home ablaze on Barnes Road in Cedar on Thursday

Businesses advised to prepare for federal, B.C. COVID-19 assistance

Canada Revenue Agency portal expected to open next week

Dogs are property, not kids, B.C. judge tells former couple

Court decision made on competing lawsuits over Zeus and Aurora — a pit bull and pit bull cross

B.C. senior gives blood for 200th time, has ‘saved’ 600 lives

There was no cutting of cake for Harvey Rempel but he’s challenging youth to start donating blood

Most Read