Indigenous youth and allies have announced that they are walking away from the BC Legislature after six days of protests that reached its most heated moment on Tuesday morning before the Throne speech.
“Today we shut down the BC Parliament,” reads a statement posted on the Wet’suwet’en Solidarity Victoria Facebook page on Tuesday evening.
“The Indigenous youth who locked down this building for 6 days have decided that rather than be violently removed by the Vic PD they will walk away proudly and with strength tonight.”
Over the past six days, Indigenous youth and allies have camped out at the BC Legislature steps, blocked two main bridges and, ahead of Tuesday’s Throne speech, blockaded all entrances to the BC Legislature building in an effort to prevent politicians and journalists from entering.
Their actions are part of a nationwide movement spurred by the arrests of Wet’suwet’en people defending their territory in northern B.C. against the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
On February 6th, youth protestors in Victoria issued the following demands to their government representatives:
- That they do everything within their power as a Canadian politician to ensure that the
following demands of Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs are met, and provide proof of
their efforts to meet the following demands via direct contact with the youth,
- That the RCMP and associated security and policing services be immediately withdrawn
from Wet’suwet’en lands, in agreement with the most recent letter provided by the
United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’s (CERD)
- That the province cease construction of the Coastal GasLink Pipeline project and suspend
- That the UNDRIP and Indigenous peoples’ right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) are respected by the state and RCMP,
- That the provincial and federal government, RCMP and private industry employed by
CGL respect our laws and our governance system, and refrain from using any force to
access Indigenous lands or remove Indigenous people, and
- That the BC Premier and relevant Ministers meet with Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs to
receive and adhere to these demands.
Tuesday’s rally at the BC Legislature drew hundreds of protesters standing in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en people, including Victoria councillors Ben Isitt and Sharmarke Dubow.
During the chaos of the day’s events, there have been allegations of people being assaulted and injured.
While protesters have vehemently denied these allegations, reiterating that it was a peaceful protest and organizers instructed everyone to keep their hands to themselves, Victoria Police are investigating potential cases of assault and asking witnesses and victims to come forward.
Councillor Ben Isitt took to Twitter on Tuesday night to denounce VicPD, stating that allegations of assault are “hogwash designed to discredit Indigenous youth and their supporters.