Montreal

Wet'suwet'en solidarity protesters march through streets of Montreal

The peaceful protest brought traffic to a standstill as demonstrators held signs, beat drums and chanted their support for the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and those who have blockaded rail lines across Quebec and the rest of Canada in recent weeks.

Streets clogged with protesters as transportation disruptions spread across the country

Several hundred protesters marched through the streets of Montreal with no organization leading the group and no official itinerary, paralyzing rush-hour traffic for roughly two hours. (Brian Lapuz/CBC)

Hundreds of demonstrators clogged downtown Montreal streets during rush hour Tuesday to show their solidarity with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs opposing a pipeline project through their territory in northern B.C. — and their opposition to the federal government's handling of blockades across the country.

The peaceful protest brought traffic to a standstill as demonstrators held signs, beat drums and chanted their support for the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and those who have blockaded rail lines across Quebec and the rest of Canada in recent weeks.

Riot police were standing by throughout the march, which went on for about two hours, but they did not intervene.

The protest began around 4 p.m. at Victoria Square. There was no official organizer and no itinerary filed with police.

'We've been silent for too long'

Among those demonstrating was Nikki Baribeau, a Cree from Mistissini, Que., who is a history lecturer at Bishop's University.

"I am here to advocate for Indigenous rights and to stand up for Wet'suwet'en, as well — to stand in solidarity with them," Baribeau told CBC Montreal's Let's Go.

Nikki Baribeau, a James Bay Cree and History lecturer at Bishop's University, was among those walking through the streets of Montreal Tuesday. (Brian Lapuz/CBC)

"It's been 500 years that we've been silent. Land just being taken away — Indigenous land just keeps disappearing and gets destroyed."

She said the protests will not end. 

"You put one barricade down, another one is going to go up because we've been silent for too long."

On the issue of the inconveniences caused by the blockades and protests, Baribeau invited people to visit an Indigenous community and "see how inconvenienced we are."

"We don't have any [clean] water," in many communities, she said.

She called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to meet the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and find a solution that doesn't involve running pipelines through Indigenous territory. 

The protest came as police moved in to enforce injunctions to end the blockades on rail lines in Lennoxville, in the Eastern Townships and Listuguj, on the Gaspé Peninsula — although no move has been made to take down the barricade on the Mohawk territory of Kahnawake.

Another blockade on Canadian National Railway's line in Saint-Lambert, on Montreal's South Shore, came to a peaceful resolution on Friday after an injunction was served on protesters there.

with files from Matt D'Amours and CBC's Let's Go

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