About 60 supporters of the Hereditary Chiefs of Wet’suwet’en came out on February 17 to stage a protest at the Thousand Islands Bridge at Lansdowne/Alexandria Bay. The peaceful protest stopped traffic for about three hours as part of a series of nationwide rotating demonstrations designed to bring awareness to the pipeline issue on Wet’suwet’en territory.
(LANSDOWNE ON February 18, 2020) Sometimes people just want to be heard. To be noticed, to have their issues taken seriously, to have those around them acknowledge they are there. And when no one seems to be paying attention, they take action.
A bald eagle was slowly circling the Thousand Islands Bridge at Lansdowne/Alexandria Bay on February 17 as an organized group of protestors marched on the toll booth on the Canadian side. Watching for traffic and remaining soft spoken and well mannered, they carried their signs to the entrance to the bridge, spread out, and refused to move.
“Since time immemorial Wet’suwet’en Nation have been stewarding and protecting their traditional territories,” said the Raven Trust on their official website. “Now, they are defending land, air and water from Coastal GasLink’s (CGL) liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline.
“The Hereditary Chiefs of Wet’suwet’en have launched legal actions to defend their rights and title from unwanted industrial activity, and to hold governments of Canada accountable to climate commitments for future generations.”
In support of this initiative, protests have been breaking out all over Canada, blocking commerce and travel, drawing attention to the issue as seen by the Hereditary Chiefs.
“All across the country, people are rising up against this violation of sovereignty and for indigenous land, title and freedom,” said the handout provided by the protesters. “People are rising up now just as they did for Oka, Gustafsen Lake, and Elsipogtog, shutting down rail lines, ports and industrial infrastructure and pressuring elected government officials to abide by UNDRIP (the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples). The state needs to stop violently supporting those members of the 1% who are stealing indigenous resources and condemning all of our children to a world rendered uninhabitable by climate change.”
“The climate crisis is already hitting our House territories hard,” said Dini Ze’ Lho’immggin, Alphonse Gagnon. “You only have to look at the shrinking Hudson Bay Mountain glacier and count the salmon. If Canada is allowed to continue approving infrastructure for fracked gas projects on a 40-year timeline, our territories will become a wasteland before the project licenses expire.”
This is an environmental issue that reaches far beyond the First Nations – as the earth succumbs more and more to climate change, everyone is threatened. It is suggested that all sides sit down and discuss the issue further, making decisions that will benefit all and not just a few with money and/or power.
Also according to the Raven, in February of this year, the Wet’suwet’en have launched two separate legal actions. One “seeks a Judicial Review of a project extension for Coastal Gas Link’s pipeline, granted by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office last October. The Chiefs are asking the Court to cancel the extension because B.C. failed to properly assess the Coastal Gas Link project’s potential harms…”, while the other “is a Constitutional challenge asking the Federal Court to declare that Canada has a constitutional duty to keep the country’s greenhouse gas emissions well within the Paris Agreement limit of 2 ̊C above pre-industrial levels. On behalf of Wet’suwet’en youth and future generations, this action also argues that Canada’s failure to do its fair share to avert a climate catastrophe would breach the equality provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
The protestors stayed at the bridge for about three hours before peacefully disbanding and heading home. They intend to keep protesting across the nation until such time as they get a satisfactory solution for all involved parties.