London

Indigenous-led pipeline protest slows Highway 401 between London and Six Nations

An Indigenous-led rolling blockade that travelled between London, Ontario and Six Nations, Ontario slowed traffic, which the organizers said is to show solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en people in B.C.

The rolling blockade slowed travel from London to Six Nations

Lacey Weekes holds up a placard in opposition to the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline in BC, before participating in a rolling blockade on Highway 401. (Liny Lamberink/CBC News)

A rolling blockade in opposition to a British Columbia natural gas pipeline project brought traffic on Ontario's busiest highway to a crawl Monday morning, as Indigenous-led protesters held a demonstration in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en First Nation in Northern B.C.

Nearly a dozen cars slowed eastbound travel on Highway 401 to between 60 and 65 kilometres an hour, starting from the Colonel Talbot Road shortly before 10 a.m. and heading towards Highway 403 and Six Nations.

Yeyatalunyuhe George, one of the organizers, said the demonstration stemmed from a national call for solidarity by Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

"It's going to make people upset and slow their lives down a little bit, but our lives are being affected daily, their lives are being affected daily. We want people to just slow their lives down for a minute, think about it."

The blockade set off on Monday morning after Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs rejected a ruling from the BC Supreme Court late last week saying pipeline opponents could not block natural gas company Coastal GasLink from accessing the area. 

The chiefs then sent an eviction notice to Coastal GasLink, citing Wet'suwet'en trespass laws, ordering its staff and contractors to leave the territory.

'We stand together'

"We get so busy with life that we think it's not our problem," said George. "How would people feel if we said 'hey we're going to move your house because we want to put a pipeline through it."

Lacey Weeks, another protestor, said pushing ahead with the pipeline is a crime.  

"In our belief system, we stand together, solidarity, all nations to have one voice, one purpose," she said. "We're here to take care of the land we take care of her because she provides us with everything we have."

A handful of provincial police vehicles, marked and unmarked, were stationed at the protest's meeting point. Two cruisers could be seen trailing the 11 car blockade, while another pair of cruisers blocked the highway's eastbound on ramps at Wellington Road in London as the group drove by.

now