After days of attempting to draw a response from Premier Horgan, supporters of the Indigenous anti-pipeline movement in B.C. finally received one.
In a statement to media on Tuesday afternoon, Premier John Horgan expressed that while he supports people exercising their democratic right to protest, he understands the frustration of those affected by the movement.
“…I understand the frustration of people who have been unable to go to work today, who have been unable to enter government buildings or have been unable to get around in their communities,” writes Horgan.
Indigenous youth and allies have been demanding Horgan and other relevant ministers meet with Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs in order to hear their demands. To this, he responds:
“My government continues to be available to engage with the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs through the Wiggus Table discussions. We are also engaged in ongoing reconciliation discussions, which are focused on rights, title, self-government and self-determination. Those channels of communication remain open.”
Events on Tuesday
Supporters of the Wet’suwet’en movement against the Coastal GasLink pipeline and against RCMP arrests of demonstrators caused a major disruption at the Legislature on Tuesday as MLAs arrived for the afternoon’s Throne speech.
The day of the throne speech traditionally begins by the lieutenant governor reading the speech on the front steps of the legislature, as well as a 15-gun salute.
However these ceremonies were cancelled owing to the group of Indigenous youth and allies that have been camped at the steps for approximately six days.
As the day wore on, more and more protestors arrived, blocking all 16 entrances to the Legislature, denying entrance to some MLAs and journalists, and yelling “Shame!” in their faces until police arrived to create a passageway.
Videos show one reporter having to scale a wall with the help of a security staff member to gain entry into the building and cover the Throne speech.
According to Victoria Police, people have been pushed and shoved in their efforts to enter the legislature.
“This is unacceptable,” writes VicPD. “Our officers have worked to ensure safe entry and exit to the Legislature while balancing the right to peaceful protest. Peaceful protest does not involve pushing and shoving, nor obstructing people from their places of work.”
Protestors remained stationed outside the Legislature during the Throne speech, vowing to make as much noise as possible to disrupt the proceedings.
In a press release for today’s demonstration, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs denounced the arrests in northern B.C.
“The RCMP are carrying out a violent raid on unceded Wet’suwet’en territory under Provincial and Federal watch to enforce Coastal GasLink’s injunction,” reads the statement.
“Indigenous youth, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, and allies including ENGOs, municipal, provincial and federal representatives will gather in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en Nation.”
Demonstrators in Victoria have now entered their second week of expressing solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en anti-pipeline movement by taking over public spaces.
Indigenous youth and allies across Canada are joining the growing movement using the hashtag #shutdowncanada after RCMP arrested six people who were blocking the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory in northern BC, in compliance with an injunction order issued by the BC Supreme Court.
On Monday evening, demonstrators blocked both the Johnson Street bridge and the Bay Street bridge for approximately an hour as part of their movement to #shutdowncanada.