Protesters rally in support of Wet'suwet'en in downtown Edmonton
EDMONTON -- A group of about 50 gathered in downtown Edmonton Friday afternoon to show their support for the Wet'suwet'en First Nation's fight against the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
The protest started in the area of Jasper Avenue and 109 Street just after 3 p.m. Protesters circled the intersection with megaphones and signs for about half an hour.
One protester told CTV News Edmonton he wanted to block traffic, but police officers told people to stay on the crosswalks and sidewalks.
Edmonton Police Service said officers did take one person into custody after they appeared to attempt to block traffic. They have since been released. No charges were laid.
EPS said the majority of the group remained clear of the roadway, as advised by police, and that several officers walked with them for a period.
Two others were arrested in relation to a separate unrelated event, police said.
The group dispersed just before 4 p.m.
PROTESTS BECOMING AN 'ECONOMIC CRISIS': KENNEY
Similar protests have taken place across the country, and rail blockades have prompted CN Rail to halt rail service in eastern Canada, and Via Rail to cancel passenger trains nationwide.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Friday the blockades by "angry fringe groups" are quickly having an effect across Canada.
"This is not just a regional issue and it's not just isolated. This has become a national economic crisis."
Kenney noted there are domino effects from the shutdown that are affecting people, including rail workers and agriculture producers.
“It means that our farmers here in the West are going to have a harder time getting their products to market,” said Kenney.
“And guess what? Our farmers - they don't have defined benefit pensions. They don't have job security. They don't get paid unless that grain gets loaded onto the trains. Trains that are now being shut down.
“I think Canadians are losing patience with this. I know Indigenous people are.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the disruptions by Indigenous groups and supporters must be resolved through dialogue, rather than ordering police.
The blockades started with a protest by Indigenous groups in B.C., where the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline would pass through First Nations territory.
With files from The Canadian Press