Over 50 people rallied in front of the Terrace RCMP building today as part of the ‘International Solidarity with Wet’suwet’en’ rallies taking place across the country.
“We’re coming together and standing in solidarity with our Wet’suwet’en relatives who are being forcibly removed off their territory by the RCMP,” says one of the rally participants, Mike Dangeli, an artist and educator in Kitsumkalum.
“We’re here in a kind, gentle and legal way exercising our rights and privileges as people of Canada, people of British Columbia.”
The rally is a part of a call for the public to come together in their communities and voice their concerns against police coming onto Wet’suwet’en traditional lands, southwest of Houston.
Two Indigenous camps, the Gitdumt’en camp and the Unist’ot’en camp, were set up with checkpoints in the area to prevent Coastal Gaslink Pipeline Ltd. workers from doing pre-construction work.
On Monday, RCMP enforced an interim injunction issued by the B.C. Supreme Court in mid-December, ordering the removal of any obstructions interfering with the Coastal GasLink project.
Fourteen people were arrested that evening at the Gitdumt’en checkpoint for various offences, including alleged violations of an injunction order against the blockade. It’s alleged that officers saw a number of fires being lit and large trees placed onto the roadway.
A post on the Unist’ot’en Facebook page said the RCMP enforcement was an “act of war,” and is calling for international help with donations or “physical support.”
RCMP have set up a temporary exclusion zone where the police do not allow access to anyone who is not part of the enforcement team.
“The primary focus for the police is the safety of everyone involved – protesters, police officers, area residents, motorists, media and general public,” the RCMP said in a press release. “There are both privacy and safety concerns in keeping the public and the media at the perimeter, which should be as small as possible and as brief as possible in the circumstances, based on security and safety needs. The temporary exclusion zone remains in place and will be consistently re-assessed.”
The construction of the $6.2-billion LNG Canada pipeline, which is 670 kilometres long, is scheduled to begin this month.
The protest in Terrace was organized and publicized via Facebook following the arrests Monday night. Dozens of rallies took place simultaneously throughout the country along with a few in the United States, UK and Italy.
Dangeli says he was grateful to see so many people showing their support.
“A big corporation has the ability to swarm the courts and create injunctions and appeals to drain you out — and that’s a terrible way of doing things,” he says.
“It’s not just the Indigenous population here… but it’s families, elders, all ages and ethnicities, and people of different socio-economical backgrounds that are coming together to say this isn’t right.”