January 22, 2019 9:36 pm
Updated: January 23, 2019 2:00 am

Protesters block downtown Edmonton intersection to support B.C. First Nation’s land rights

WATCH ABOVE: Drummers and dancers shut down traffic at Jasper Avenue and 104 Street in Edmonton in order to perform a round dance meant to show support for the We'suwet'en First Nation in northern B.C.

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Drummers and dancers shut down traffic at Jasper Avenue and 104 Street in Edmonton on Tuesday evening as they performed a round dance meant to show support for the We’suwet’en First Nation in northern B.C., members of which were involved in a blockade meant to stop work on a gas pipeline earlier this month.

Dozens of people formed a circle at the downtown Edmonton intersection shortly before 6 p.m.

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“They are taking action to oppose the use of legal injunctions, police forces and criminalizing state tactics against the Wet’suwet’en asserting their own laws on their own lands,” the Council of Canadians said in a news release.

The Council of Canadians is a non-profit group made up of political activists. On its website, the group says it advocates for “clean water, fair trade, green energy, public health care, and a vibrant democracy.”

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A transit bus managed to slowly squeeze past the round dance, however, other vehicles did not try to pass. Police arrived soon after the round dance began.

Earlier this month, RCMP raided one of two blockades that were keeping Coastal GasLink workers away from their site in northern B.C. A second blockade was removed late last week. Just last week, hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation finalized a deal with the RCMP over their anti-pipeline protest.

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

The RCMP took action to enforce an interim court injunction meant to allow workers to reach the pipeline construction site.

Under the terms of the agreement formalized last Monday, the blockade will stay down and the police presence in that remote area near Houston, B.C., will be scaled back.

“These people were peacefully occupying their land,” said Asiniy Thunderingantler, who took part in Tuesday’s solidarity round dance. “This is a violation of… the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

“[The situation in northern B.C.] is a continuation of settler colonial violence by the Canadian state against Indigenous people and this (the pipeline) is going to accelerate climate change,” he said. “I hope that more people will listen and learn and start working together to try to find alternative sources of energy and money.”

READ MORE: Wet’suwet’en to open anti-pipeline checkpoint after negotiations with RCMP, say ‘this is not over’

The Council of Canadians said the drummers and dancers planned to block the downtown Edmonton intersection “indefinitely.” However, the protest ended about an hour after it began.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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