Demonstrators backing Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs end Confederation Bridge protest
Demonstrators spent Sunday night on P.E.I side of bridge
Demonstrators dismantled a camp on the P.E.I. side of the Confederation Bridge Monday afternoon following a 24-hour protest in support of hereditary chiefs opposed to a pipeline project.
Up to 20 protesters built the camp on Sunday afternoon, setting up at a median on the road leading to the bridge. They slowed traffic but allowed vehicles to cross onto the mainland.
The demonstration began Sunday afternoon with at least four people who spent the night at the Confederation Bridge to show their support for the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs, who oppose the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline on their territory in northern B.C..
More than two dozen demonstrators with flags and signs first gathered Sunday afternoon.
RCMP said the night was peaceful and the road remained open. A fire was still going on Monday morning and more demonstrators rejoined the camp at suunise.
In a statement on behalf of the Epekwitk Assembly of Councils, Chief Darlene Bernard and Chief Junior Gould said they support the peaceful protest, but acknowledge that some First Nations support the pipeline.
"We respect the environmental concerns raised by the Wet'suwet'en hereditary Chiefs and we also acknowledge and respect the decisions made by over 20 First Nations, including most Wet'suwet'en First Nations, that have signed impact benefits agreements with [Coastal GasLink] and currently support the pipeline," they said.
The statement said it's important the matter be resolved peacefully and "within the law."
"What Islanders and Canadians need to understand is that these protests happening across the country, and now in P.E.I., are about more than just the Wet'suwet'en situation.
"They are about centuries of Canada's Indigenous people being denied access to the land and resources, they are about centuries of economic and social marginalization," the statement said.
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The Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs say the representatives from 20 First Nations who consented to this project were established by the Indian Act and only have authority over reserve lands.
Members of the Mohawk First Nation in eastern Ontario have been supporting the hereditary chiefs by blocking the tracks near Belleville, Ont. The blockade prompted CN Rail to close its Eastern Canadian freight train network, and Via Rail has cancelled passenger trains nationwide because of demonstrations taking place along or on railway tracks.
With files from Isabella Zavarise and Travis Kingdon