Wet’suwet’en protests continue despite RCMP action

Published On February 11, 2020 | By Galvin Zaldivar | News
Protesters and supporters of land defenders in Wet’suwet’en blockade the intersection of Yonge and Eglinton. (Galvin Zaldivar)
Galvin Zaldivar

Protests against the ongoing RCMP presence on Wet’suwet’en territory have spilled onto the streets of Toronto.

Supporters of the Wet’suwet’en blockaded the intersection of Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue after an overnight occupation of the constituency office of Carolyn Bennett, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs.

The blockade is in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in British Columbia, who continue to block construction of Coast GasLink pipeline through their traditional and unceded territory.

Bennett sat down to talk with protest leaders and the conversation was broadcast to supporters outside.

Protesters demanded the government respect the wishes of the Wet’suwet’en’s hereditary chiefs, who do not wish for any pipeline to cross their territory.

Bennett said that large parts of the community in fact support the pipeline and that the whole community must be part of that conversation.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister, Carolyn Bennett discussed RCMP action in Wet’suwet’en with protesters on Feb. 11. (Galvin Zaldivar)

As the conversation ended, protesters began banging on the windows of Bennett’s offices, chanting “Racist, Corporate, Money Protectors.”

Leila Atri, who was among those who spoke with Bennett, said she was not encouraged by the minister’s words.

“We got nothing out of the conversation,” she said, adding Bennett did not say anything about withdrawing the RCMP from Wet’suwet’en territory.

Atri said she was concerned when Bennett told her and her fellow protesters the RCMP was no longer enforcing the injunction but remained in the territory.

“We’re concerned that they’ll just raid again,” she said.

Disruptions like the one at Yonge and Eglinton will continue until the traditional rights of the Wet’suwet’en are respected she said.

“We are calling on the RCMP to withdraw from the territory,” she told supporters outside Bennett’s office.

Elsewhere in the country, rail traffic in the Toronto-Montreal corridor remains cancelled as a blockade by land defenders from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and supporters continue.

Location of the Wyman Road railway crossing, and the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. Land defenders from the territory have blockaded the crossing in protest of the RCMP in Wet’suwet’en territory.

Land defenders have blockaded the Wyman Road railway crossing, in Tyendinaga Township, just outside of the Mohawk territory.

In response, Via Rail has cancelled all trains between Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa, leaving commuters scrambling to obtain seats on replacement bus services.

Despite being served an injunction Sunday evening, land defenders instead burned and ignored the order.

Protesters also blocked politicians and media from entering the B.C. Legislature today, when the government is set to deliver a speech from the throne.

Another camp, blockading a bridge on Unist’ot’en territory has also been dismantled by RCMP officers.

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