Calgarians rally on Reconciliation Bridge in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en land supporters
Roughly 200 protesters met in front of TransCanada Tower
Protesters drummed, smudged and held a round dance in front of the Calgary headquarters of the company behind a proposed pipeline project, one of many rallies across Canada in solidarity with residents of the B.C. First Nation who oppose the pipeline crossing their traditional land.
Roughly 200 marchers met in front of TransCanada Tower in downtown Calgary Monday, police said, before walking to Reconciliation Bridge, where they briefly blocked traffic at the intersection of Memorial Drive and Edmonton Trail, before returning to the bridge at police's request. Protesters later marched from the bridge to city hall late Monday afternoon.
TransCanada, now TC Energy, owns the Coastal GasLink pipeline project that crosses the traditional territory of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation in northwestern British Columbia.
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"The earth doesn't have a voice, the air doesn't have a voice, water doesn't have a voice, animals don't have a voice, so we're here to be that voice today and we're here to just stand up and say no consent, no pipeline," said Maskwasis, a protester who goes by one name, who sang at the rally.
The $6-billion, 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline project has been approved by the province, and 20 First Nation band councils have signed agreements in support of the project, including five of the six councils in the Wet'suwet'en nation.
However, the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs say those councils are only responsible for the territory within their individual reserves because their authority comes only from the Indian Act.
RCMP began enforcing a court order by arresting those blocking construction on Wet'suwet'en territory last week.
Maskwasis said he feels the RCMP is violating both Wet'suwet'en and Canadian law.
"They [Wet'suwet'en] have been illegally invaded as an act of colonial violence," said T'sa Dliji T'sika with Idle No More, one of the groups behind the event.
Michelle Robinson, one of the organizers, said she heard that while the protest was underway, in Wet'suwet'en RCMP were taking down red dresses — dresses that symbolize missing and murdered Indigenous women — and arresting matriarchs of the community.
RCMP said Monday evening police had wrapped up enforcement in Wet'suwet'en territory, arresting 28 people between Thursday and Monday. No arrests were made at the Calgary protest.
"What's happening is Canada's picking and choosing the court injunctions they want to enforce based on how much money people make," she said.
Dliji T'sika said she apologizes to Calgarians who were stuck in Monday's traffic jam.
"We apologize but our people have had no say as to impeding invasions on our lands for 500 years now. We're sorry if you're late for work but our relatives have literally died for this."
She said protesters connected with police before the rally, and that the protest has been peaceful.
With files from Dave Gilson, CBC Indigenous