Environment Canada was issuing extreme cold alerts all week and projecting -40C wind chills, but that didn’t stop eight members of Climate Action Inuvik from taking to the streets for their weekly march Feb. 14.
Although they took the holiday season off, the group has been marching every Friday in support of a more climate-friendly Canada for the last year.
But this week there was a bit more weight to it, as the group made use of their march to draw attention to the events occurring in the Wet’suwet’en nation in B.C.
“It’s important to me so that everyone is aware of the situation,” said Tessa Jenks. “We will keep on doing this until more and more people know.”
Organizer Abe Drennan noted there were a lot of facets to the conflict, but felt it was needed to speak out about the way events have unfolded.
He added he felt it was important as a beneficiary of colonialism to help the people affected.
“Why we’re marching today is in solidarity in the bigger picture of climate action on a pipeline but also in recognizing the ancestral laws the hereditary chiefs uphold,” said Drennan. “That’s to the lands that are not owned by the Crown of the B.C. province are kept clean and the ecosystems are healthy for generations.
“By the Canadian government not acknowledging their ancestral rights to those lands and forcibly removing people, that’s not a way to reconciliation or to de-colonizing Canada.”
Drawing dozens of honks from passerbys, the team of eight made their way from East Three School down Mackenzie Road and back. Drennan said the group wanted people to recognize that responding to climate change and reconciling historical wrongs with Indigenous peoples went hand in hand.
“Canada has got climate change on its doorstep but it also got Indigenous rights needing to be upheld and honoured,” he said. “The colonial effects that Canada has impressed on people for hundreds of years has to stop. I think as non-Indigenous Canadians, we need to do our part to break down the colonial mindsets of power over another, or economic growth over environmental sustainability.
“We have to stand against oppression whenever we see it, and I think there’s a majority of people who feel that’s their responsibility as well and the uprising we’re seeing around the world is due to that.”
Protests and blockades have erupted across Canada after 28 people were arrested in the enforcement of an injunction against a blockade set up by hereditary chiefs to prevent the construction of a $6.6 billion liquefied natural gas pipeline to the port of Kitimat on the B.C. coast. All the gas moved through the pipe would be exported to markets in Asia. A 27-kilometre exclusion zone was set up during the enforcement limiting the ability of the reporters to cover the events happening within it.
Since the arrests, a number of members of the blockade camp have said they have returned to the site and are maintaining their eviction notice on Coastal GasLink, the company building the pipeline.