Lakehead University students show support for Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs
Chiefs want to halt construction of natural gas pipeline on their unceded traditional territory in B.C.
More than 100 people took part in an event at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., Wednesday to show support for the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs in British Columbia, who want to halt construction of a natural gas pipeline on their unceded traditional territory.
The northwestern Ontario event featured traditional drummers and singers, a documentary, and an art exhibit. Organizers also asked participants to contact their elected representatives to protest what they call violations of Wet'suwet'en, Canadian, and international law.
"A big thing for me is raising awareness for the situation. I feel like a lot of people underestimate what's really going on," said Neebin Scanlon-Wabasse, a member of the organizing collective, who is originally from Webequie First Nation. "It's just important, especially in a place like Lakehead University where we can educate future leaders."
Five out of six Wet-suwet-en band councils have signed agreements supporting the 670-kilometre Coastal GasLink pipeline, but the hereditary chiefs argue that band councils only speak for their individual reserves, while the remaining 22,000 square kilometres of the nation's traditional territory fall under their jurisdiction.
"For me, if the land is unceded, they have the right to govern that area as hereditary chiefs," said Scanlon-Wabasse as he explained how he reconciles the differing opinions of leaders within the Wet'suwet'en nation.
He said he hoped the event would "just spread awareness."