Winnipeg protesters rally at MP's office in solidarity with northern B.C. pipeline opponents
Indigenous Youth for Wet'suwet'en rally against the Coastal GasLink pipeline, want response from MP Dan Vandal
Dozens of protesters gathered at the Winnipeg office of a member of Parliament Tuesday to voice their opposition to a pipeline in northern B.C.
The rally against the multibillion-dollar Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline project was organized by a group calling themselves the Indigenous Youth for Wet'suwet'en. Protesters gathered Tuesday morning at the office of MP Dan Vandal, who is also minister of Northern Affairs, where they rallied outside and also sat peacefully inside, saying they are not leaving until they get a response from the MP.
The peaceful protest "is an action of solidarity to show that the world is watching … the actions being taken in B.C.," said Emily Amos, a Prairie Cree and Coastal Salish protester.
The fact the pipeline is several provinces away is irrelevant, she said.
"If Wet'suwet'en territory becomes ruined by the construction that goes on out there, it could eventually travel to us, and then our entire land will be ruined."
In a tweet sent Thursday, Vandal said he had "a productive conversation" with one of the protesters, and said he planned to follow up later this week.
Had a productive conversation with Carter of the Indigenous Youth for Wet’suwet’en and Winnipeg Allies. I look forward to continuing this dialogue with them on Friday.—@stbstvdan
The conflict between the Wet'suwet'en and Coastal GasLink first came to a head over a year ago, but tensions recently started rising again.
The project has received approval from the province of B.C., and 20 First Nations band councils have signed agreements in support of the pipeline. But Wet'suwet'en hereditary leadership says band councils do not have authority over land outside of the reserve boundaries.
Earlier this week, B.C. premier John Horgan appointed former MP Nathan Cullen to act as an intermediary between the chiefs, the province, RCMP, Coastal GasLink and others.
Tuesday's protest in Winnipeg happened to fall on the same day the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed a 2018 appeal by Indigenous groups that challenged expanding the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project, which will carry nearly a million barrels of Alberta oil per day to the B.C. coast.
That appeal argued that the government consultations with locals were a failure, and that government needed to do a better job of informing and working with First Nations whose land will be affected.
The appeal court, however, ruled that the federal government carried out "reasonable" and "meaningful" consultations with Indigenous peoples affected by the project's construction before approving the pipeline for a second time.
With files from Sam Samson and John Paul Tasker