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Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs' supporters hold highway protest at Blind River

Highway 17 traffic slow down and information picket was organized in solidarity with Indigenous people blocking construction of a pipeline through their traditional territories

Mississauga First Nation (MFN) members, along with other supporters, slowed traffic down on Highway 17 receiving donations and support from motorists at noon today.

The protest was in support of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs' blockade of their land in northern British Columbia (BC) from the planned Coastal GasLink pipeline.

The chiefs’ protest has gathered support across the country from native and non-native people opposing the pipeline going through the Wet’suwet’en land. One protest group has blocked rail service near Belleville.

The $6 billion pipeline would see natural gas pumped from near Dawson Creek to a coastal Liquidized Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in Kitimat. It’s part of a $40 billion plan approved by the federal government.

The MFN protest was organized by band members and supporters Tracy Fraser, Dana Boyer. Kowgli Chiblow, Eric Crane and Liz Cooke.

The northern BC Wet’suwet’en land is on unceded (non-treaty) and sovereign territory.

“The Hereditary Chiefs have denied consent of pipeline development through their maintained lands,” which means they have not approved the laying of the pipeline on their land. Environmental concerns are a factor in the dispute.

“Their healing centre is under attack as the waters around it are unpoisoned, consumable and actively relied on the sustain the life of the Wet’suwet’en people,” a flyer handed out to motorists by the MFN protesters stated.

Fraser said the protest was meant to show “solidarity” with the chiefs’ action and calls for the federal government to meet with the chiefs in a bid to resolve outstanding issues in the dispute. Donations raised today at the protest will go toward assisting with legal costs for those Wet’suwet’en people who have been charged by the RCMP in northern B.C.

“They stopped two pipelines already,” she said of the local rally. “It’s just for them defending their land.”

“It’s bringing awareness to defend our land,” she said.

“Their rights should be respected,” Boyer said. “It’s pretty much an invasion by Canada.”

“They were given an alternative route, but they don’t want to use it,” Boyer added, referring to an off native land proposal for the pipeline that has been rejected by the company.

The rally, near Blind River, saw organizers with banners rejecting the pipeline and RCMP involvement in the BC protest.

- ElliotLakeToday

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About the Author: Kris Svela

Kris Svela has worked in community newspapers for the past 36 years covering politics, human interest, courts, municipal councils, and the wide range of other topics of community interest
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