Workers at Canada’s busiest port got an unexpected day off Sunday, as protesters supporting Wet’suwet’en pipeline opponents blocked access to Deltaport.
The protest group organized by Red Braid Alliance for Decolonial Socialism descended on the Roberts Bank access road to the port near Delta, B.C. Saturday night and remained there overnight into Sunday.
“We’re part of a nationwide movement to shut down Canada in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en,” organizer Isabel Krupp said.
“More than $1 billion of commerce moves through Deltaport every year. We’re shutting it all down. There’s no commercial traffic going in or out of Deltaport today.”
Krupp says the group plans to remain at the port until the RCMP leave the site of the Wet’suwet’en blockade camp in northern B.C., which is attempting to stop work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
Those looking to start their shift at Deltaport Sunday morning were told to turn back. According to organizers, workers are respecting the blockade and are treating it like a picket line, saying they won’t cross.
Global News has reached out to the workers’ union, ILWU LOCAL 502, and the Port of Vancouver for more information.
Krupp says the group allowed workers ending their shift Saturday night to leave the port, but only after explaining their message to each of those workers.
“Most of them were receptive, and most of them understood the need for working-class solidarity with Indigenous struggles for sovereignty,” she said.
She estimates roughly 250 to 300 workers trying to enter the port were denied access Sunday morning.
Delta Police vehicles could be seen on-site, and Krupp says the protesters have been threatened with arrest. So far, no arrests have been reported.
Police spokesperson Cris Leykauf said police are monitoring the protest while talking to workers and Global Container Terminals about impacts.
Leykauf said around 1 p.m. that she couldn’t speculate to how long the protest could last.
Sunday also saw the fourth straight day of demonstrators blocking entrances to the Port of Vancouver, stalling truck traffic attempting to enter and leave the port.
Vancouver police said the intersections of Clark Drive and East Hastings Street, and Powell Street and Heatley Avenue were closed. The Commissioner Street entrance to the port was also blocked, but the McGill off-ramps are open to traffic.
Saturday saw a long lineup of trucks looking to enter the port spill onto the off-ramp and onto Highway 1, creating heavy delays.
The Port of Vancouver says the days of protests in both Vancouver and Delta have created “significant impacts” to port operations, but adds the specific impacts won’t be known until later in the week.
A large group of protesters also staged a rally at Vancouver City Hall Sunday afternoon, with people calling for the RCMP to withdraw from Wet’suwet’en territory.
One speaker urged protesters to call Premier John Horgan’s phone number, which she read out to the crowd.
Horgan has repeatedly said the Coastal GasLink pipeline is provincially approved and permitted, and says the opponents are in violation of Canadian law by blocking construction.
The protesters later marched from City Hall and closed down traffic as they took over the intersection of Broadway and Cambie Street for roughly two hours.
In Victoria, a group of Indigenous youth has refused to move from the steps of the B.C. legislature since Thursday, and have set up a tent city on the legislature lawn.
Those inside the legislature tell Global News that a constantly-burning ceremonial flame at the growing protest site has become a health and safety concern, with smoke filling the offices in the building.
The tent city is also threatening to disrupt the scheduled throne speech on Tuesday.
On Saturday, Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg showed her support for the protesters on social media.
Further east, demonstrators blocked VIA Rail access in Ontario for the third straight day, along with another rail line in Toronto.
The protests follow a youth-led blockade of the Swartz Bay ferry terminal and occupations of two ministers’ offices last month.
Protesters are ramping up demonstrations across B.C. and elsewhere in Canada this week in solidarity with members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, who have been facing off with RCMP since Thursday.
Over 20 arrests have been made by police, who are enforcing a court injunction against the opponents who have dug in near Houston, B.C.
The $6.6-billion Coastal GasLink is intended to carry natural gas from northeastern B.C. to a massive new Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export facility near Kitimat.
Twenty elected Indigenous councils along the route have signed agreements with the company, but opponents say only the hereditary chiefs have authority over unceded traditional territory.