Wet'suwet'en solidarity protests continue as supporters block roads and port terminals
Published Sunday, February 9, 2020 1:08PM PST Last Updated Monday, February 10, 2020 6:36AM PST
VANCOUVER -- Protesters blocking entrances to Metro Vancouver ports have been served with an injunction ordering them to leave or face arrest. The court order showed to CTV News Vancouver by protesters gives police in Delta and Vancouver the authority to arrest demonstrators who refuse to leave. The order appears to have been issued Sunday in response to an application from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association.
Vancouver police said Sunday night that they are aware of the injunction, but "nothing has changed" in terms of their response to the protesters.
"Vancouver Police will be monitoring the protest this evening and will be updating any disruptions to traffic and the public through our social media websites," police said in a statement almost identical to the ones they have issued throughout the weekend. "There have been no arrests at this time."
Around a dozen protesters blocked Deltaport in Delta, B.C. on Sunday in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and their supporters who are opposing a gas pipeline in their territory in northern B.C.
Sunday was the fourth day of solidarity protests that targeted Metro Vancouver port terminals. Protesters began blocking traffic at the three entrances to the port in the City of Vancouver on Thursday afternoon. On Saturday, they blocked traffic at those entrances all day, camping on-site and remaining there in tents Sunday.
"To shut down ports, railways, roads ... all in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en,” said protestor Isabel Krupp. “We are here to shut down Canada in support of Indigenous sovereignty."
The protestors at Deltaport said they would not leave until the RCMP leave Wet'suwet'en territory.
More than 250 dock workers spent most of the morning lined up along the causeway to the port, hoping they’d be allowed past the blockade so they could get to work.
After 11 a.m. most of them decided to go home, with many loudly wondering why police don’t just arrest the protestors.
"We do understand that there is a sense of urgency here. So, we're trying to facilitate a peaceful resolution to this matter in a timely fashion,” said Delta Police spokesperson Cris Leykauf, adding that police would keep the peace and make sure the demonstrators have a chance to be heard.
At around 4 p.m., protesters also occupied the intersection of Cambie Street and Broadway near downtown Vancouver and blocked traffic. TransLink warned passengers that multiple buses, including the 9, the 17 and the 99 B-line, had been rerouted because of the protest.
RCMP have arrested a total of 21 people as they move to enforce a court injunction that prevents Wet'suwet'en members and their supporters from blocking access to Coastal GasLink worksites in an area near Smithers, B.C.
A rally at Vancouver City Hall drew about 1,000 people who oppose the pipeline and the RCMP arrests.
"The government is making some very bad decisions in continuing the oil and gas fossil fuel industry,” said Neskonlith Band Chief Judy Wilson, who addressed the crowd. “It's dirty oil and gas and we need to go the other way.”
The Metro Vancouver protests continued in conjunction with demonstrations elsewhere across the country. Indigenous youth and supporters continue to camp overnight on the front steps of the B.C. legislature in Victoria, and VIA Rail passenger train service remained cancelled on Sunday between Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa because of a blockade in Belleville in support of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs.
“It’s taken on a life of its own, not just here, but elsewhere,” said Herb Varley, as he took part in the blockade at the Clark Drive entrance to the Port of Vancouver.
As for the longshoremen and truckers economically impacted by the blockades, protestors want them on their side.
“We are calling for working class solidarity with Indigenous struggles for sovereignty,” said Krupp.
With many of the workers not getting paid for days the protests prevent them from accessing the port, that could be a tough sell.
With files from The Canadian Press and CTV News Vancouver's Ian Holliday.