'Someone has to do this for our children': Winnipeg supporters show solidarity with B.C. anti-pipeline camps
RCMP arrested 14 people Monday after entering Wet'suwet'en checkpoint in B.C. barring pipeline company access
A sacred fire burned on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature Tuesday morning, as supporters gathered, prayed and sang in solidarity with people from a northern B.C. First Nation trying to prevent a pipeline company from accessing their traditional territory.
The fire was lit around noon on Monday in support of people from the Wet'suwet'en First Nation.
"The pipelines are affecting the land, which is affecting the water," Alma Kakikepinace said Tuesday at the Winnipeg gathering.
"Someone has to do this for our children, for our future, for my great-grandchildren, for the generations to come."
On Monday, RCMP entered a fortified checkpoint on a forest service road near Houston, B.C., about 620 kilometres north of Vancouver. Police arrested 14 people.
Members of the Wet'suwet'en nation have been preventing workers from Coastal GasLink, a pipeline company, from accessing the area with two camps established along the forest service road with fortified checkpoints: Gidimt'en and Unist'ot'en.
They asserted the workers can only pass if they have consent from hereditary leaders.
RCMP entered the checkpoint after announcing Monday they would enforce a December court injunction to allow Coastal GasLink access to the road and bridge.
Other gatherings were planned in cities across Canada, including Montreal, Halifax, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Vancouver and Whitehorse.
On Tuesday morning, Winnipeg supporters of the camps said they planned to put out the fire at the Manitoba Legislature with a ceremony at noon, including songs, prayers and offerings of tobacco.
Ninondawah Richard, who spearheaded the Winnipeg sacred fire, said the gathering is about standing in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en First Nation.
"We can't get a bus or a vanload of people going up there," he said. "That's why we did this event out here."
'About respect': Former grand chief
Richard said it's important to preserve the ability for future generations to have connection with the land.
"It's for our future generations and for our babies who are coming, and who are walking and calling," he said. "That's for them."
Sheila North, former grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak and a director at Manitoba's University College of the North, also attended the sacred fire in Winnipeg.
"It's about lands and rights to the lands, and also about respect," she said.
"I think it's long overdue that this country give the proper respect [to] Indigenous people of this land on their rights to the land. And I think it's important to always stand together in times like this."
The Coastal GasLink pipeline is meant to transport natural gas from northeastern B.C. to the coast, where a liquefied natural gas project is scheduled for construction.
TransCanada has said it signed agreements with all First Nations along the proposed pipeline route to the $40-billion LNG Canada facility being built in Kitimat, B.C., but some hereditary chiefs say those agreements don't apply to the traditional territories.