Wet’suwet’en solidarity protesters leave Winnipeg MP’s office after 11 days

A group of youth protesters are packing up after occupying the office of Winnipeg MP Dan Vandal since Feb 4. Joe Scarpelli/Global News

Youth protesters are leaving the office of Winnipeg MP Dan Vandal after occupying a room there for 11 days in an effort to block a pipeline project in northern British Columbia.

Protester Carter Graveline said they have done everything they can and decided to pack up Saturday morning.

“We really do feel that Dan Vandal has failed us, either by taking way too long with commitments or just not really giving commitments at all,” Graveline said on Saturday.

The group was trying to get the minister of northern affairs to commit to their demands, which include condemning the actions of the B.C. RCMP removing Indigenous people from Wet’suwet’en territory.

Graveline said Vandal met with them three times since they began their demonstration on Feb. 4.

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“We did not feel very respected when he did come to us,” Graveline said. “We do appreciate that he did take time to try.”

The protesters at Vandal’s office were part of a demonstration Monday evening that shut down Portage and Main and two other intersections during rush hour.

A separate group had also temporarily blocked a rail line west of Winnipeg on Wednesday.

Graveline said more action will be coming, but couldn’t say what that might be.

“This fight is not over,” Graveline said.

The Canada-wide movement is aiming to shut down the country’s economy in the wake of RCMP enforcement of a court injunction against the Wet’suwet’en members blocking construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline near Houston, B.C.

RCMP moved into the traditional, unceded Wet’suwet’en territory on Feb. 6.

The $6.6-billion Coastal GasLink project is meant to carry natural gas from northeastern B.C. to Kitimat.

Click to play video: 'Protesters block rails in Vaughan, Ont. in latest Wet’suwet’en solidarity demonstrations'
Protesters block rails in Vaughan, Ont. in latest Wet’suwet’en solidarity demonstrations

The company has signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected Indigenous councils along the route.

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But hereditary chiefs who oppose the project say elected councils only have jurisdiction over First Nations reserves. The hereditary chiefs claim authority over rights and title to land that was never covered by treaty.

Vandal’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

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