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Downtown Edmonton march shows solidarity with Wet'suwet'en Nation opposition to Coastal GasLink pipeline


More than 100 Edmontonians rallied in downtown Edmonton Monday evening in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs opposing a pipeline project on its territory in northern B.C.

Protesters gathered at Beaver Hills House Park for speeches, then marched along Jasper Avenue and temporarily stopped at the High Level Bridge, blocking traffic for about an hour.

Police blocked traffic as the protesters stopped at the bridge spanning the North Saskatchewan River as the protesters sang songs and had a sacred fire.

The pipeline would transport natural gas from Dawson Creek in northeastern B.C. to Kitimat on the coast. According to Coastal GasLink, the company administering the pipeline, the project is more than halfway finished.

A collective of local organizations organized the solidarity march on Monday in Edmonton.

"The Wet'suwet'en territory that they (the RCMP) are invading is unceded land," Carter, an organizer with Climate Justice Edmonton, told CTV News. "The hereditary chief system is the system of legal precedence. So it is illegal for the RCMP to be there.

"They are arresting people, citizens, members of the Nation, and journalists. They are working very hard to silence folks at the Wet'suwet'en and continue pushing pipelines through."

Many protesters shouted and chanted, "Always was, always will be Indigenous land," and "How do you spell racist? R-C-M-P."

Last week, Mounties in northern B.C. said they were enforcing an injunction barring protests from blocking an access road used by Coastal GasLink pipeline workers.

On Friday, RCMP arrested 15 people – including two journalists – following a series of protests that blocked access to that road.

The dispute over the 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline flared previously in 2019 and 2020, with protesters who defied court injunctions arrested as well. The elected Wet'suwet'en Nation Council supports the pipeline.

For Carter, the rally aimed to condemn the pipeline development, highlight the problematic RCMP actions, and ensure the Wet'suwet'en people opposing the pipeline development see they have support across Canada.

"We're ready to continue showing support for them in their fight," Carter added.

The Alberta NDP provincial council passed a resolution on Sunday that expressed solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en First Nation and denounced the violence enacted against members of the nation and land defenders.

The United Conservative Party caucus condemned the NDP resolution, issuing a statement saying the Opposition was ignoring the will of elected First Nation Leaders and the B.C. Supreme Court.

With files from The Canadian Press Top Stories

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