As members of B.C.’s Wetʼsuwetʼen Nation continue to resist the development of the Coastal GasLink pipeline project amid intensifying police action on traditional, unceded Wetʼsuwetʼen land, demonstrators took to the streets of Yellowknife Friday to show support and solidarity, while condemning recent arrests at the hands of Canada’s national police force.
Clutching “Respect Existence or Expect Resistance” signs and chanting ‘Water is Life,” more than two dozen demonstrators gathered in front of NWT MP Michael McLeod’s constituency office on 48 Street.
“We’re trying to be loud about an issue that matters and affects all of us,” said demonstrator Ady McLeod.
“(Michael McLeod) needs to be acting. The Indigenous people of Canada deserve to be defended on their own land. It’s time to speak up,” she said.
On Thursday, RCMP arrested six protesters at a camp on Wet’suwet’en territory. The arrests come as police begin to enforce an injunction recently ordered by B.C.’s Supreme Court. Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink has no authority on its traditional lands.
Opponents of the multi-billion dollar pipeline say the project will have devastating environmental consequences to the First Nation’s water and wildlife.
Coleen Hardisty, a protester previously involved in Yellowknife demonstrations against the Dakota Access Pipeline, called Thursday’s arrests extremely troubling.
She felt “sorrow” and “panic” watching Wetʼsuwetʼen Nation members being forcibly removed from blockades.
Hardisty was among demonstrators who took their concerns direc
tly into McLeod’s office.
The Liberal MP was in Ottawa on Friday, a staffer told demonstrators.
“I’d like to know what his plan is for when companies come for our drinking water,” said Hardisty. “Because it’s inevitable.”
“Why is the federal government allowing the national police force, the RCMP, to forcibly remove people from their own lands?,” another demonstrator asked a McLeod staffer, who jotted down questions and concerns to relay to the MP.
As someone who often exercises her right to protest, Adithi Balaji told NNSL Media the recent arrests of peaceful protesters shocked her.
“They were just fighting for what they believed in,” said Balaji.
“The idea the RCMP could just come here now and arrest us is terrifying.”
Friday’s demonstration in Yellowknife was one of many displays of solidarity held across the country in recent weeks.