VIDEO: Wet’suwet’en Protest Hits PA Downtown-

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(THUNDER BAY, ON) –  What appeared to be roughly 50 to 60 people gathered in the city’s north side downtown core today in solidarity with members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation. The protest went on from roughly 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm in blistering cold weather. It stretched up Red River Road from Water Street to Court Street, briefly heading south down Water and back up Cumberland to Red River. The group stopped in front of ScotiaBank for a while.

More protests were held across Canada which blocked vehicular and train traffic as experts ring the alarm calling the arrests made by the RCMP on Wet’suwet’en land “unlawful and unjust”.

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On December 31st, 2019 tensions started to rise as the B.C. Supreme Court expanded an injunction in Coastal GasLink’s favour, which enabled them to push into Wet’suwet’en land. This also blocked Wet’suwet’en Nation members from going on the project site.

On Thursday, a week ago, RCMP started to enforce the injunction. Before making arrests, they asked protesters to leave their camps which were blocking access to the service road which was needed. 20 protesters in the area have since been arrested in the area.

This ongoing conflict has sparked numerous blockades and protests across Canada, including rail lines, port entries, legislatures and roadways. Phrases like “Reconciliation is dead” and “Wet’suwet’en Strong” have been trending on various social media outlets.

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Indigenous activists indicate that the conflict goes far beyond the pipeline issue and brings up the Indigenous rights issue.

The 670 kilometres, $6,600,000,000 pipeline is meant to transport natural gas from Alberta to the Pacific coastline.  Coastal GasLink states that the route was approved and determined while considering “Indigenous, landowner and stakeholder input, the environment, archaeological and cultural values, land use compatibility, safety, constructability and economics.”. They say they signed agreements with all 20 First Nations along the route, including the Wet’suwet’en.

The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, at least some of them, are opposing the construction of the pipeline and say that they never consenting to it being constructed on their traditional territory.

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What’s a hereditary chief? They are a traditional form of Indigenous governance that pre-date colonization. When Canada was settled by Europeans and treaties were signed with First Nations, the Indian Act established First Nations councils which had elected chiefs and councillors who had authority over reserve lands.

The underlying concern of the Wet’suwet’en Nation is surrounding the governance and ownership of their traditional land. This First Nation has never ceded their land to Canada and never gave up rights to their land, whether that be resource extraction rights or occupation.

1997 brought a landmark Supreme Court ruling regarding Wet’suwet’en Aboriginal title otherwise known as Delgamuukw v. British Columbia.  The results of that case were that Aboriginal title is not just the land itself, but te resources within it and the rights to extract them. Further, the case established requirements for First Nations peoples to prove their Aboriginal title. Continuous occupation of the land was addressed by this.

This means that by occupying the land, they are holding onto their rights to the land. Having the RCMP force them off the land is quite concerning in regards to this ruling.The Wet’suwet’en peoples have every right and are fully within the law to occupy their traditional lands.

On Sunday, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) renewed a complaint surrouding what is described as “improper and increasingly unlawful actions of the RCMP.”. The complaint includes a policy complaint and a call for a public investigation into the “exclusion zone” on Wet’suwet’en territory.

“There is absolutely no legal precedent nor established legal authority for such an overbroad policing power associated with the enforcement of an injunction,” reads the letter.

“The arbitrary RCMP exclusion zone and overbroad access restrictions are completely unjustified and unlawful, and constitute a serious violation of Indigenous rights.”

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“We’ve seen people from all walks of life take to the streets, blockade ports, occupy government buildings and even interrupt rail service across the country in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en people, who are being forced to put their lives on the line in an effort to protect their territory and their rights,” said Greenpeace Canada Executive Director Christy Ferguson in a press release Monday.

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What is frustrating many First Nations people across the country is the government claiming to support Indigenous rights yet appearing to utterly fail the first time a true test is put forth.

Below is the video from the Thunder Bay protest.

with files from CTV / Nicole Bogart

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18 Replies to “VIDEO: Wet’suwet’en Protest Hits PA Downtown-”

  1. Are these protests actually legal? Do these protesters abide by laws set forth in the way of proper permits that are required? I totally agree that they have the right to protect their lands and resources but I sense there will be an overall negative reaction by the public. How long until these peaceful protests become the state or riots? There are laws to be followed for protesting and all should be following them…indigenous or not.

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    1. yes, they’re legal. No, permits are not required as they contacted the local police service in advance of the event.

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    2. Ok If the Natives in BC have never ceded their land then they should own it and should also have no reason to receive any funding from the government. Most other provinces in Canada did in fact negotiate treaties and agreements were made so the blockades in those places are in violation of those same treaties. The governemnt should be filing lawsuits as well. But certain politicians are backpedalling as fast as they can. They could not lead a pack of starving wolves to a rotting moose carcass never mind to try to lead this country in a crisis. It is interesting how quickly law suits are filed by natives against the colonalist government but it seems that colonalists laws are only good when they rule in favour of a Native issues and when they rule against any native issue those laws are invalid as far as certain natives are concerned. WTF??? It is past time this country abolishes the two tiered apartheid system in this country and stops treating citizens differently because of the colour of their skin and different ethnic background. Then no one can be called racist anymore because we will all be equal in the eyes of the law.

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    3. No they are not, and furthermore, the Chiefs and communities have voted for this pipeline across the country, contrary to what the mainstream media is saying. These protests are effecting the very land/people they claim to be protesting for. With another train derailment, it’s only hurting the environment.

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  2. Reconciliation is not dead because I am having to save money for my kids education when natives get theirs paid for for free hello. Buy their friends things with no tax but people who work have to pay more. I pay for my own kids daycare and everything else reconciliation works TWO WAYS. Guess what my grandpa got molested on the boat ride to Canada after he was orphaned when Stallin killed his parents and no one ever did anything to help him. Shot himself when he was 65 and just retired so my grandmom could get his pension. Generations later no one reconciled that.

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  3. …just-in turd’eau “can’t get the cops to deal with the railway lawbreakers, but he can get the RCMP to stop investigating him.”…

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  4. What a joke. It’s all about them wanting money in return for the use if everyone’s land not indigenous land cut a cheque for everyone not just indigenous if that’s what they want. then see if they still wanna protest if the money is spread out for everyone

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  5. in B.C. …..they don’t care about the Land…holding out for mo money as they drive $$ cars and lived in fuel heated homes..unreal.

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  6. From what I’ve read, the democratically elected band officials of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation have agreed to the pipeline. However, the “hereditary chiefs” (a form of Stone Age monarchy of historically entitled families) are disputing the legitimacy of the decisions made by the elected band members who’ve agreed to the pipeline.

    Now here’s where the bullshit gets real thick.

    The hereditary chiefs are challenging the authority of the elected band members because being elected is of no legitimacy to the tribe because “democracy” is a colonialist concept that does not apply to the Wet’suwet’en people. In effect, the hereditary chiefs consider themselves as royalty accountable only to themselves and not their people. They basically think they’re kings and subject to no laws even though they do not legitimately represent their respective bands in the eyes of the Canadian govt.

    Now for the reality. Understanding how western tribes negotiate with governments and businesses must be understood. Even with duly elected band members, there’s plenty of kickback and graft that gets siphoned off of projects and into the pockets of elected band officials. It’s pretty much the norm out west and likely in the rest of Canada as well.

    What’s happening in the case of Wet’suwet’en territory is the hereditary chiefs aren’t getting their piece of the pie. The elected band members are likely pocketing all of the kickbacks, graft and bribes. The hereditary chiefs can’t expose the corruption because if they do, they’ll be shooting themselves in the foot. Accordingly, they’ve created this FN uprising across the country to give them leverage to squeeze the elected band members.

    Anyone supporting these hereditary chiefs for environmental reasons are being hoodwinked. All you’re doing is assisting them to put pressure on the elected band members to cut them in on the proceeds of corruption.

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    1. The reality is the protests were organized by PC members to rule Trudeau even though he has nothing to do with it so why not acknowledge that fact?

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    2. DylanHoward:

      Your source for that tidbit of info was likely Alex Jones right?

      The world most f*cked up, lunatic, fanatical right wing conspiracy theorist.

      Lay off the Koolaid Dylan.

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  7. Sure these protests are illegal. How do they get to the protest? Of course they drive fossil fueled vehicles. They drive quads and skidoo’s and boats and use chainsaws and generators. They heat their homes and business with gas and oil. They get supplies Trucked to them on winter roads by transport and need graders and dozers to keep roads open in winter to get fossil fuels. I for one think this is B S. illegally shutting down a country. How about we hold back the monthly cheque’s till their stupid protests are over. Yes protect the land but don’t screw the whole country over it. How about we blockade supplies that are needed by their communities

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    1. How about you learn how to pluralize words properly? How does one make it to adulthood and still not know how to pluralize?

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    2. “How does one make it to adulthood and still not know how to pluralize?”

      Complements of Dumpster Bay inferior schools, teachers and education system.

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    3. You are Canadian and Canada has treaties sorry if you do not understand that concept but TBay is known for one thing and that is ignorant racism, here the comments every day prove this stereotype to be true in every way

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