Wet’suwet’en solidarity protest blocks downtown Montreal intersection

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Jody Wilson-Raybould weighs in on the Wet'suwet'en conflict – Feb 16, 2020

Activists gathered and blocked the intersection of Sherbrooke Street and McGill College Avenue in downtown Montreal on Monday to demonstrate their support of the Wet’suwet’en protests in British Columbia.

Several dozen protesters stood in front of the McGill University gates, blocking the street to traffic, to demonstrate their support for the Wet’suwet’en Nation as tensions remain high across Canada, with Indigenous-led railway blockades and anti-pipeline protests entering a third week.

While the dispute over the 670-kilometre Coastal GasLink pipeline goes back several years, nationwide demonstrations started earlier this month after the RCMP began enforcing a B.C. Supreme Court injunction that would clear the way for the pipeline construction.

READ MORE: Wet’suwet’en protests: Here’s what’s happening across Canada

A statement from the Indigenous Youth for Wet’suwet’en group that organized Monday’s demonstration said demonstrators were “mobilizing against the Government of Canada’s invasion of unceded Wet’suwet’en territory.”

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Carlee Kawinehta Loft, a Kanien’keha:ka (Mohawk) woman who was at the demonstration, said the decision from the British Columbia Supreme Court to extend Coastal GasLink’s injunction order is a violation of Wet’suwet’en law and their constitutionally protected right to occupy their own unceded land.

Montreal police said no arrests were made and officers did not have to intervene as the protest remained peaceful. Police spokesperson Jean-Pierre Brabant said officers were on the scene to block off the intersection to secure the safety of demonstrators and drivers.

“[This] is what happens when you don’t listen to people or when you try to go ahead and develop a project without getting their consent,” said Abel Bosum, Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees on Monday.

Quebec Premier François Legault agreed with Bosum that it’s important that the government consult with Indigenous communities before going ahead with developments.

He however added that he found it unacceptable that the conflict is now interfering with the rail transport of passengers and goods and the economy as a whole.

READ MORE: Coastal GasLink says alternate pipeline route proposed by Wet’suwet’en chiefs not ‘feasible’

Loft told Global News it’s important for Indigenous people in Montreal to show their solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en people and to disrupt the city to raise awareness of the conflict.

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“If they are angry about the inconvenience,” Loft said, speaking of the demonstration’s traffic disruption, “I remind them of the inconvenience of being colonized for the last hundred years.”

Brabant said the protest lasted a little over an hour ended at 5 p.m.

–With files from Global News’ Kerri Breen and David Lao

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