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Demonstrators block Vancouver rail crossing in support of anti-pipeline First Nations

A group of demonstrators blocks the CN Rail crossing at Venables Street and Glen Drive on Wednesday.
A group of demonstrators blocks the CN Rail crossing at Venables Street and Glen Drive on Wednesday. Alliance Against Displacement / Twitter

Demonstrators opposed to a natural gas pipeline that would link Dawson Creek with a future LNG plant in Kitimat briefly shut down a rail crossing in East Vancouver on Wednesday.

The protesters were engaged in a “day of action” in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en First Nation members who are fighting the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which would cross their traditional territory.

In a media release, supporters said they planned to “shut down Canada by interrupting Canada’s capitalist economy that depends on the paramilitary RCMP-backed dispossession of Indigenous peoples.”

Around 100 demonstrators gathered at Grandview Park on Commercial Drive and marched to the rail crossing at Venables Street and Glen Drive.

READ MORE: RCMP provides update on agreement with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs following blockade

“Our actions are in response to the province, federal government, and RCMP allowing Coastal GasLink access to unceded territory without Free Prior and Informed Consent,” said demonstrators in a release.

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Demonstrators claimed that an agreement between the RCMP and the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs to dismantle a blockade at the Unitst’ot’en camp near Houston, B.C. last Thursday has already been violated.

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“According to reports from Unist’ot’en camp, the RCMP have set up a tactical operations base, and have begun establishing a camp behind the lines of the Gitdumt’en checkpoint that they breached a week ago, activating a massive and worldwide solidarity movement,” said the group.

READ MORE: After Wet’suwet’en protests, when might Trans Mountain get built? ‘Not anytime soon’: business leader

Demonstrators blocked the crossing from about noon to 2 p.m., before moving on towards the Downtown Eastside.

Global News has requested comment from CN Rail and CN Rail police.

Under the terms of the agreement reached last week, the Unitst’ot’en camp could remain so long as its blockade of a bridge was removed. Police agreed to scale back their presence in the area.

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The hereditary chiefs also agreed to abide by an interim injunction issued by the B.C. Supreme Court in December, requiring Coastal GasLink workers to be permitted to go about their work in the area.

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In the wake of the agreement, Chief Na’Moks said the chiefs had made the temporary agreement to protect members of the First Nation, some of whom he said were traumatized when police dismantled a second checkpoint last week, arresting 14 people.

READ MORE: Why did RCMP arrest 14 people at Wet’suwet’en Camp, and what happens next?

On Wednesday, hereditary chiefs held a press conference reiterating their opposition to the pipeline project.

The elected councils of 20 First Nations bands along the route of the pipeline have signed agreements with Coastal GasLink.

However Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, who claim the authority over rights and title to unceded traditional territories, remain opposed, and say no elected band council or Crown authority has jurisdiction over the land.

— With files from Jon Azpiri