Saskatchewan

Protests in Regina, Saskatoon show solidarity with B.C. First Nation fighting pipelines

Protesters in Saskatchewan showed support for members of a northern B.C. First Nation who have been preventing a pipeline company from accessing their traditional territory.

Organizers say locals should support Wet'suwet'en anti-pipeline camps

People in Regina endured frigid temperatures to gather in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en people. (Kendall Latimer)

About three dozen people braved the cold Saskatchewan weather near the RCMP buildings in Regina on Tuesday, waving signs and shouting slogans to show solidarity with members of a northern B.C. First Nation fighting to prevent a pipeline company from accessing their traditional territory.

Similar events were planned across the country after RCMP arrested 14 people on Monday.

"What's happen at Wet'suwet'en should be everybody's concern," said Wendy Lerat, who organized the Regina event.

She said people across the country need to send a clear message to government.

"This is unacceptable, especially in a period of not only reconciliation but a period where people are addressing climate change," she said.

Wendy Lerat organized the rally that happened in Regina near the RCMP Headquarters on Dewdney Avenue. (Kendall Latimer/CBC)

Lerat described herself as a kokum who would rather be baking or preparing for her classes, but who can't sit back and just watch.

"I don't want to be out here on this cold day freezing my rear off. I want to be able to live a normal life, but I can't."

The protesters arrested in B.C. Monday were part of the Gidimt'en camp that barred Coastal GasLink access to a road and bridge. The RCMP officers making the arrests were enforcing a court injunction made in December.

Protesters gathered in Saskatoon Tuesday for another solidarity event.

"I saw many pictures and videos of RCMP with assault rifles there to remove elders and people that are unarmed off of their own territory," said Sheelah McLean, one of the Saskatoon organizers and one of the co-founders of the Idle No More movement.

"As a white settler Canadian, I am completely outraged."

RCMP officers climb over a barricade and start making arrests to enforce the Coastal GasLink injunction at the Gidimt'en camp in northern B.C. on Jan. 7, 2019. 1:42

By Tuesday afternoon, there were reports of RCMP in B.C. heading to Unist'ot'en camp — the second blockade.

"The Unist'ot'en people are protecting their unceded territories from seven different pipelines," McLean said.

"They are on the frontlines of protecting the land for all of us. We know that we're in a climate crisis," she said.

She said she was "shocked that the RCMP and the police — who are supposed to be working for the Canadian people —are instead working for a corporation."

A look at where the blockade was set up in B.C. (CBC)

"This is the Oka Crisis all over again, and clearly we haven't learned from that," McLean said.

McLean said rallies can inform the public about what's happening while also showing government that people disagree with sending in the RCMP.

"If they think they can continue with the status quo, they're wrong. The winds of change are coming."