Protesters leave train tracks in East Vancouver after police read injunction
Published Sunday, February 23, 2020 12:27PM PST Last Updated Sunday, February 23, 2020 7:09PM PST
VANCOUVER -- Protesters gathered on train tracks near the intersection of Clark Drive and Venables Street in East Vancouver on Sunday to express solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline on their traditional territories in northern B.C.
A release from the protesters, who describe themselves as urban Indigenous sovereigntists, says the action is being taken in defiance of an injunction granted to CN Rail on Feb. 10.
The demonstrators say "civil disobedience is necessary to push back against the enforcement of unjust laws." They say they are demanding "an end to the use of injunctions to repress Indigenous peoples."
Within a few hours, police had read a new injunction to the protesters, who left the scene shortly before 4:30 p.m.
Video from the scene showed a small group of people had gathered at the rail crossing at Glen Drive, near Venables Street. Protesters were not blocking the road, only the railway.
Reached via email, a spokesperson for CN Rail said the company is "aware of the protest and monitoring it closely."
The spokesperson also provided the following statement:
"The protesters are trespassing on active railway tracks. Trespassing on railway property and/or tampering with railway equipment is not only illegal, but also exceedingly dangerous. A serious and even fatal incident could be the outcome. Safety is a core value at CN and every time a breach like this occurs, railway experts inspect the track and equipment for the safety of our employees and the public, which further slows the movement of goods"
Protesters have been gathering across the country for weeks to express solidarity with the hereditary chiefs who oppose the planned liquefied natural gas pipeline near Houston, B.C. in Wet'suwet'en territory.
The chiefs and their allies say they are defending Wet'suwet'en land from Coastal GasLink and the RCMP, which arrested several people along the route earlier this month.
Police there were enforcing an injunction on behalf of the company, which has agreements with all 20 elected Indigenous band councils along the pipeline route.
The hereditary chiefs who oppose the pipeline assert responsibility for protecting a broader traditional territory than the elected leaders, whose authority comes from the Indian Act, and applies primarily to land use and governance on reserves.