Upwards of 30 people made their way to Premier John Horgan’s MLA office in Langford Wednesday morning, with organizers calling the Indigenous/women-led action a way to show solidarity with First Nation members in the B.C. north.
The action is in support of Unist’ot’en and Gidimt’en First Nations on Wet’suwet’en traditional lands near Houston, B.C.
On Jan. 7, RCMP arrested 14 people at the Gidimt’en camp after being granted an interim injunction by a B.C. Supreme Court judge to remove the First Nations camps that were blocking access to a Coastal GasLink pipeline construction site.
Three days later, a tentative agreement was reached between hereditary leaders of the Wet’suwe’ten First Nation and RCMP saying First Nations members will abide by the injunction if RCMP agree to leave a nearby Unist’ot’en healing camp be.
Hereditary leaders said the agreement was made to ensure the safety of residents at the camp.
The overarching theme of the action in Langford was to express “discontent with Canada’s conduct, hold the RCMP to account for ongoing colonial violence toward the Wet’suwet’en people and their allies, and call on Premier John Horgan and the B.C. government to respect ‘anuc niwh’it’en (Wet’suwet’en law) and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” according to organizers.
The group started at the Tim Horton’s on McCallum Road and marched to the West Shore RCMP detachment on Highway 14 where they gathered and addressed officers through a megaphone, chanting “RCMP stand down.”
West Shore RCMP said the demonstrators “disrupted community policing operations” and blocked public access to the building. RCMP said community volunteers for the Speedwatch Program were unable to leave the detachment and a 79-year-old volunteer had to be escorted past the demonstration by police officers for a meeting inside the building.
Emergency operations were not affected.
“The RCMP fully support the right to peaceful and safe protest,” said Cpl. Chris Dovell of West Shore RCMP. “But businesses and community volunteers also have the right to conduct meetings.”
An Indigenous/women-led action group is standing in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en access point on Gidumt’en territory. Plans to march to Millstream Rd/Hwy 14, RCMP and Premier John Horgan’s office in #Langford pic.twitter.com/GOe4CXaEq4— Shalu Mehta (@ShaluMehta32) January 16, 2019
The group then made its way down Goldstream Avenue towards Horgan’s office, blocking intersections at Veteran’s Memorial Parkway and Jacklin Road.
According to organizers, this is one of dozens of actions across North America in response to a frontline call-out for rolling solidarity actions in support of Wet’suwet’en sovereignty.
“We’re not protesting,” said organizer Serena Baker. “We’re here standing in support and solidarity with people who weren’t protesting, who weren’t doing anything but living life in their home that they’ve occupied for numerous years.”
An Indigenous rights activist from Alert Bay and elder who’s given name is Tsastilqualus said the main focus on Wednesday morning was to stand in support with Unist’ot’en. She said “police are being used to protect corporations and not the people.”