Supporters of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposing the Coastal GasLink LNG pipeline are hosting a rally in conjunction with Climate Justice Victoria at the B.C. Legislature this afternoon.
The rally aims to “stand with the Wet’suwet’en until the RCMP and CGL are off the Yintah and Wet’suwet’en law and governance is respected and upheld”, and will take place at 3 p.m. Monday afternoon.
In a recent development in response to protests across Canada, RCMP removed officers from their outpost on Wet’suwet’en territory on Friday but will continue patrolling the area, working out of detachment in Houston, B.C.
Today’s rally is also expected to address the arrests at a railway blockade on Tyendinaga Mohawk territory in Ontario that took place on Monday.
This blockade was set up nearly three weeks ago in solidarity with the five Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the CGL pipeline, and several people were arrested after the expiry of a deadline calling for protesters to clear the area.
Monday’s rally in Victoria aims to “continue to hold the province accountable for their violent and unconstitutional actions taken against the Wet’suwet’en people and their homelands.”
Over 700 people have expressed interest in attending as of the time of publication.
This is the first major action planned in Victoria since Wet’suwet’en supporters peacefully picketed outside B.C. ministry offices across the city in an attempt to shut down the government.
Since then, a growing number of Indigenous leaders have spoken out to major Canadian publications like CBC and the Globe and Mail denouncing the actions of the hereditary chiefs and stating that they do not speak for the Wet’suwet’en people.
A recent article in the Globe and Mail shares the view of hereditary subchief Gary Naziel, the great grandson of the first Wet’suwet’en chief to provide evidence in the 1997 Delgamuukw Supreme Court case that established Wet’suwet’en stewardship of their land in the eyes of the Canadian government.
In this account, Naziel denounces the five hereditary chiefs standing opposed to the pipeline, stating that they have not been abiding by Wet’suwet’en laws.
He goes on to call the hereditary chiefs “dictators”, arguing that they have been making decisions at the Office of the Wet’suwet’en rather than the customary feast hall, and without consulting hereditary subchiefs and matriarchs.
According to the Globe and Mail report, Naziel is the latest in a growing number of Indigenous leaders in the region reluctantly speaking out against the anti-pipeline movement in an effort to “restore” their legal system.
He also contends that the five Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs’ cause is being used by other Indigenous leaders across Canada to “wage their own battles”.