Hundreds of people chanted in unison, calling for the rights of Indigenous people to be respected by government and industry, during a Wet’suwet’en solidarity rally and march in downtown Halifax.
“Although it’s an Indigenous-led movement, this movement is for everybody. We all drink water, we all use the land, we all need to know that this is about protection of the land and for our future generations,” said Joan Smith, a member of the group Voices of Women for Peace.
Smith, along with hundreds of others, stood shoulder to shoulder as the rally began, listening to several Indigenous and non-Indigenous speakers express their concerns over the Coastal GasLink project in the Wet’suwet’en Nation and the Alton Gas project on unceded Indigenous land in Fort Ellis, N.S., on the banks of the Shubenacadie River.
“We’re in unceded Mi’kmaq territory and a lot of people don’t recognize that,” Smith said.
“Unceded means the land has never been bought, sold, traded, given up, lost in a poker game, whatever. This is unceded territory and unless the population starts recognizing that, there’s going to be more protests and more education. I like to think of it as education, rather than a protest,”
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs oppose the Coastal GasLink project that would carry natural gas to the B.C. coast through their territory, though others in the community support the pipeline.
“It’s to get support for Wet’suwet’en, to educate people on what exactly they’re standing for and to let people know that even though they may be a little put out, or inconvenienced, that’s nothing compared to how Indigenous (peoples) have been (treated) for hundreds of years.”