A group of approximately 15 protesters marched to Thompson City Hall Feb. 21 to show support for hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in northwestern British Columbia, who are inspiring nationwide blockades with their stand against the Coastal Gas Link (CGL) pipeline crossing their territory.
The CGL is approximately 670 kilometres in length and, if completed, will deliver natural gas from the Dawson Creek area of B.C. to a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility near Kitimat on the Canada’s West Coast.
Supporters of the pipeline argue that the development will put money into government coffers and provide economic development and employment for generations. They say the LNG, which will be shipped to Asia, will displace coal-fired power generation and contribute to lower carbon dioxide emissions. Postmedia reported that all 20 First Nations along the pipeline route support the development, which has the approval of B.C.’s governing NDP party.
Project opponents, including some Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Wet’suwet’en First Nation members, Indigenous supporters and non-Indigenous activists, argue that the project falls short on Indigenous consultation, and will create environmental devastation including increased global carbon dioxide emissions. They argue that the hereditary chiefs, not elected band councils, should have the final say over the pipeline where it crosses areas outside the elected officials’ jurisdiction. Opponents also argue that having RCMP members on Wet’suwet’en territory over the last several weeks was an occupation. Protesters are currently blocking sections of Canada’s rail system, as the federal government and First Nation leaders search for a solution.
Thompson protest participant Khrystyna Massan was there to support the Wet’suwet’en, and also bring awareness about a currently hypothetical pipeline to Churchill on the shore of Hudson Bay.
“We are here to protect the land and the water,” she explained.
Hiliary Wood was protesting on behalf of Indigenous youth in the area who are supporting the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.
“We found people who want to work with us and that we can stand together and show our support for our fellow brothers and sisters across Turtle Island,” she said. “And this is not just about the pipeline, this is about the ongoing genocide that’s going on in Canada … the ongoing colonialism that’s going on. It’s not just about the pipeline. It’s about how Indigenous people are being treated and we want to show that we stand together as a nation.”
The protest concluded with a prayer from Indigenous elder Jack Robinson.