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Protesters take over RBC at Halifax mall in solidarity with B.C. First Nation chiefs

Growing tensions in northern B.C. over pipeline project
Hereditary chiefs are digging in on their opposition to the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

Services at the Royal Canadian Bank at a Halifax mall were temporarily disrupted Saturday afternoon as dozens of protesters converged on the financial institution, calling for it to stop funding a pipeline.

The protest at Halifax Shopping Centre began at 1 p.m. above the mall’s food court, then made its way to the Royal Bank of Canada. It was held in response to the slated construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline project in northern British Columbia.

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READ MORE: RCMP arrest 14 at anti-pipeline protest in northern B.C.

Organizers were calling for RBC customers to close their accounts with the bank, as the financial institution is advising one of the backers of the pipeline.

“When people are using those banks and financial institutions, they are essentially supporting the financial backing of those corporations,” said Dorene Bernard, a Grassroots Grandmother and one of the protest organizers.

“The best way to hit them is really in their pocket.”

The GasLink pipeline project intends to convey natural gas from fracking projects in the Peace Region to the future $40-billion LNG Canada plant in Kitimat. The pipeline’s route travels through Wet’suwet’en territory.

Wet’suwet’en protesters storm B.C. minister’s office
Wet’suwet’en protesters storm B.C. minister’s office

The nation’s elected leaders signed a benefits agreement with the province for Coastal GasLink in 2014. But some Wet’suwet’en oppose the development and have established a years-long camp blockading the Morice River Bridge.

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Land advocates in Nova Scotia say the GasLink conflict is representative of conflicts they’re facing on the East Coast.

“This is not going to affect just the west,” said Darlene Gilbert, another Mi’kmaq grandmother. “This is going to affect the east. We’re going to need clean water. There’s no recipe for clean water.”

Protesters were also fighting back against the RCMP, who they say broke through the Gitdumt’en checkpoint and entered onto Wet’suwet’en lands.

Halifax Regional Police were on hand of Saturday’s protest, but no arrests were made.

READ MORE: B.C. First Nations groups say RCMP crackdown on anti-pipeline camp imminent

Gilbert and Bernard say despite the last-minute nature of the protest, the event came together well.

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“Any message is successful, as far as we’re concerned,” said Gilbert. “As long as we get the message out there that these corporations are bullying our territories.

“There’s no recipe for clean water, so why are we going to misuse it now?”