Protesters have taken Gidmit’en spokesperson Molly Wickham’s call to “shut down Canada” literally, as actions have disrupted bridges, streets and legislature. Travel was halted on a major rail corridor in Ontario and protesters blocked access to an export terminal in B.C.
In Ontario, protesters at a railway near Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory say their action will continue until the RCMP leave Wet’suwet’en territory.
This despite a swift granting of an injunction to CN Rail to end the demonstration.
Passenger departures from Ottawa and Montreal to Toronto in both directions were cancelled Friday. Trains were halted on Saturday as well.
Chief Donald Maracle said police told him about the injunction but would not provide any details about planned operations. Maracle also said the band council does not condone and has nothing to do with the protest
His community is near Belleville, Ont., partway between Ottawa and Toronto.
The demonstrators are protesting a different injunction: the one the RCMP are currently enforcing in B.C., where 21 have been arrested so far.
Fourteen people arrested at pipeline protest sites are due in provincial court Monday in Smithers, B.C., a Wet’suwet’en Nation spokeswoman told the Canadian Press on Sunday.
Jen Wickham said the 14 people were arrested and charged with breach of trust in recent days at various remote locations in northwest British Columbia near construction zones for the 670-kilometre Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline, which crosses traditional Wet’suwet’en territory.
“All of the 14 people have refused to sign their undertakings because they are following Wet’suwet’en law,” she said in a telephone interview from Houston, B.C. “They’ve all been charged with breach of the injunction.”
Meanwhile, more actions unfolded.
Hereditary Gitxsan chiefs – whose territory neighbours Wet’suwet’en – were present at a rail blockade in New Hazelton, which is north of Smithers.
A crowd gathered Sunday in Vancouver to protest the RCMP and show solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary leaders and their allies.
Social media posts showed the protest assembled outside of Vancouver City Hall.
Also on Sunday, a group called Red Braid Alliance for Decolonial Socialism protested at port terminals.
— Red Braid Alliance for Decolonial Socialism (@stopdisplacemnt) February 9, 2020
Vancouver Wet’suwet’en protest organizer Natalie Knight said dozens of people have set up picket lines at Vancouver’s port and others were at the Delta container port. She said the protests are in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en chiefs, but are also a message to the government and business community.
“We recognize the importance of disrupting capital, disrupting money and goods that come out of the city of Vancouver, that are coming from up north or going up north or that are being sent around the world,” said Knight. “This sends a very clear message to business and the government that we are not going to allow business to continue as usual.”
A spokeswoman for the port of Vancouver said in a statement the continued protests hurt the port.
“This disruption is having a significant impact on port operations and we are taking the situation very seriously,” said spokeswoman Danielle Jang. “We respect the rights of others to peacefully demonstrate and express opinions, and hope to come to a resolution soon’”
Delta Police said they are monitoring the situation at the container port.
On Saturday, Wet’suwet’en supporters lit a ceremonial fire outside the B.C. legislature in Victoria.
An Indigenous youth spokesman told about 300 people gathered there that RCMP presence in the Wet’suwet’en territories represents an armed invasion.
“This is the third day of an invasion,” said Kolin Sutherland-Wilson. “What Canada is willing to do to the Wet’suwet’en people they are willing to do to any of us. We will not stand down because our ancestors never stood down.”
Sutherland-Wilson said the fire burning in a steel fire pit on the front steps of the building is sacred and will continue to burn during the protests. He said the presence of a large pile of chopped firewood indicates people could be planning an extended stay.
Earlier Saturday, dozens of youths who slept near the legislature’s ceremonial entrance gates, huddled around the fire wrapped in blankets and sleeping bags.
“We’re definitely occupying this space while the invasion takes place because it’s highly symbolic,” said Sutherland-Wilson. “We’re here at the gates, the royal gates that only the royalty and the lieutenant governor general can use. We’re making it clear that the Canadian rule of law has never been just to Indigenous peoples.”
However, Chief Maracle said he’s worried that civil disobedience, like the protest in his Ontario community, could end up being counterproductive.
He said he’s received emails from people who said these sorts of protests have turned them away from supporting First Nation causes.
– with files from the Canadian Press