VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – A group of Indigenous youth are leading another protest on the steps of the B.C. Legislature, supporting the five hereditary chiefs opposed to a natural gas pipeline going through their land.
Smoke from a ceremonial fire wafted into the air as a few dozen protesters stood on the steps, flanked by police at each side of the front stairs at the legislature. Tents were set up at the base of the steps for shelter and food.
“We got here at 3 p.m. yesterday,” said Sheylin Sampson, one of the Indigenous youth behind this protest.
“We have no intention of leaving anytime soon, until the demands of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs are held up,” she added.
Those demands include having RCMP move off Wet’suwe’en lands, have government meet with hereditary chiefs who oppose the pipeline and halt the Coastal GasLink project altogether.
Two weeks ago, hundreds of protesters blocked the steps of the legislature, preventing politicians, staffers and media from entering the building to cover the budget and forcing the lieutenant governor to find an alternative way into the building.
— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) February 26, 2020
Anti-pipeline and Indigenous rights demonstrations have shut down streets, bridges and railways in recent weeks, while a B.C. Supreme Court judge granted an injunction against further blockades at the legislature in Victoria.
“This is a peaceful action. People here are not in violation of the injunction, as far as they can see,” Sampson added.
“However, the injunction is at the discretion of the police, so it’s really up to them whether they enforce it.”
Sampson also said if leaders such as Premier John Horgan want reconciliation, it will not be achieved by denying the requests of hereditary chiefs.
Five hereditary chiefs oppose the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline, while two support it. All the elected band councils along the route in northern B.C. support the project.