11 more arrested along pipeline route as Wet'suwet'en solidarity protests continue nationwide
VANCOUVER -- For the third day in a row, protesters in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters blocked trucks from entering or leaving Port of Vancouver facilities on the south shore of Burrard Inlet.
Before 6 a.m. Saturday, groups of protesters gathered at the north end of Heatley Avenue, Clark Drive at East Hastings Street and the Commissioner Street overpass at McGill Street.
“In shutting down the port, we are recognizing that industry continues to exploit the resources of Indigenous people as ongoing colonization in so-called Canada,” said Wulfgang Zapf, one of the protesters at Hastings and Clark.
According to BC RCMP, a total of 10 people were arrested Thursday and Friday as officers enforced an injunction against people camped along the Morice West Service Road near Houston. On Saturday, police announced that 11 more people had been arrested.
The hereditary chiefs and their supporters are opposed to a natural gas pipeline being built by Coastal GasLink.
Protesters allowed people to leave the port in private vehicles but would not allow commercial traffic in or out.
At the Commissioner Street location, dozens of trucks were backed up on McGill Street until about noon when most of the drivers decided to head home.
“As far as the eye can see there is a line of trucks backed up and that’s traffic that is not going through the port,” said protestor Isabel Krupp. “That’s commerce and commodities that’s not getting sold and that’s a victory.”
A few drivers who spoke to CTV News said they were paid by the hour, but most said they were owner-operators and the blockade was impacting them financially.
“Yeah, it’s costing me money,” said trucker Amarjit Singh Dhillon. “I don’t know why. I need to work.”
“We’re inconveniencing truckers. We know that,” said Krupp, who urged the truck drivers to stand in solidarity with the protesters.
A few Vancouver police officers looked on as protesters and drivers engaged in relatively civil dialogue, but the two sides could not find common ground.
A long line of trucks were backed up because of the protest, and several drivers said they were losing wages. (CTV)
“There are many people here who are prepared to be arrested and put their bodies on the line for the Wet’suwet’en people, for Indigenous sovereignty and for the future of our world,” said Krupp.
In a statement, the Vancouver Police Department said officers would be monitoring the protest with public safety being the priority.
“Currently, protest activity is blocking vehicle access to port roads on the south shore of Vancouver Harbour at Heatley, Clark and Commissioner. We are monitoring the situation and working with the city and local police,” the Port of Vancouver said in a statement to CTV News.
While the conflict has been playing out in a remote northern B.C. location, protests in support of members of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline reverberated across Canada this week.
In Belleville, Ont., a protest on Saturday shut down VIA Rail service between Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa for the second day in a row.
In Victoria, protesters lit a ceremonial fire in front of the provincial legislature, and some camped at the site throughout the night.
Activists say that over 50 "solidarity actions" have taken place since the arrests started on Thursday.
Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs who oppose the pipeline say the nation never signed treaties with or agreed to sell its land to Canada. They say they continue to have legal control over the territory.
RCMP officers are enforcing a Dec. 31 court injunction that prevents Wet'sewet'en members and their supporters from blocking access to Coastal GasLink worksites. In granting the Dec. 31 injunction, Justice Marguerite Church wrote that B.C. law still applies to Wet'suwet'en territory.
Coastal GasLink has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations governments along the pipeline's proposed route, but the company does not have the support of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Alissa Thibault.