Students from several post-secondary schools in Winnipeg joined their peers from across the country in a nationwide walkout Wednesday afternoon, an expression of solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in Northwestern BC.
The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters are trying to stop construction of the Coastal GasLink LNG pipeline through their traditional, unceded territory in British Columbia.
Organizers say that while a proposed agreement between the hereditary chiefs and government ministers was reached earlier this week, it hasn’t been made official and they will continue to press for the chiefs’ demands.
“Although there’s media headlines saying about tentative agreements with Wet’suwet’en, and CGL, and the Canadian government … as far as we know hereditary chiefs and the spokespeople from the Unist’ot’en camp haven’t confirmed whether or not that agreement has been officially made,” said Annie Beach, deputy chairperson at Canadian Federation of Students Manitoba.
“The hereditary chiefs and spokespeople have asked for continued support and solidarity so we’re continuing that.”
The walkout began at noon on Wednesday on the front lawn of the University of Winnipeg. Speakers addressed the crowd before demonstrators marched along Portage Avenue and made their way to the Manitoba Legislature building.
“These are political decisions that affect all people that live on this land,” said Brenden Gali, chair of the Canadian Federation of Students Manitoba.
“Our ecosystems and our rivers and our water systems flow into one another — our land is all connected.”
“We want the violence to end, we want the social media hate and racism and ignorance to end, but our goal is to spread positive education, not to meet it with anger and defensiveness,” added University of Manitoba student Emree O’Soup.
The group said they’ll continue to show their support until the hereditary chiefs are satisfied with an agreement.