Manitoba

MMF says they can't support Wet'suwet'en blockades, call for peaceful resolution

The Manitoba Metis Federation is taking a stand on the Wet’suwet’en blockades, saying they cannot endorse protests that have blocked rail traffic in parts of the country for more than two weeks. 

'Now is the time to ask ourselves: when will this stop?': MMF statement

A handful of protesters gather near Lettellier for a railway blockade, one of many held across Canada that have resulted in decreased rail traffic. (Submitted by Derek Cassidy)

The Manitoba Metis Federation is taking a stand on the Wet'suwet'en blockades, saying they cannot endorse the protestors who have blocked rail traffic in parts of the country for more than two weeks. 

In a statement issued Friday afternoon, MMF said they felt compelled to respond "as the escalation of this conflict and immediate impacts are far-reaching and now affect every corner of our country."

"Now is the time to ask ourselves: when will this stop? Will it be if a life is lost or illness worsened because of these protests and barricades? This will be on protesters' shoulders to bear," the statement said. 

"Peaceful resolution is paramount. Compassion is vital on both sides."

MMF said that while there is clearly an internal conflict between the elected First Nation Chief and council and some of the hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en territory, they feel the protestors are not respecting the roles and responsibilities of the elected Indigenous government. 

"These 'activists' can walk away and never look back, while the elected leadership can't — because they must be accountable to those they represent," the statement said. 

On Friday morning, Manitoba's Southern Chiefs Organization held a press conference on the Wet'suwet'en blockades, saying the true blockade in Canada is against Indigenous economies, and that the role of the hereditary chiefs must be respected. 

Speaking to media this afternoon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the situation "unacceptable and untenable" and said that the barricades must come down. He said his government has engaged directly with Indigenous leaders and premiers with the aim of finding a "peaceful and lasting resolution" to the crisis.