More than 100 people took part in a protest on Edmonton’s High Level Bridge on Monday night to show solidarity with Wet’suwet’en people who oppose a natural gas pipeline project that would run through the First Nation’s territory in northern B.C.
Protesters stopped as songs were sung before walking across the bridge that connects downtown Edmonton to Old Strathcona. Vehicle traffic was stalled on the bridge as protesters crossed the span.
Some protesters could be heard chanting “land back” while others spoke critically of the RCMP’s actions with regard to protests at the site of the actual pipeline in B.C.
Similar solidarity protests to the one held in Edmonton Monday night have taken place in other Canadian cities. Three days ago, dozens of protesters blocked a major intersection in Winnipeg. Among other things, they called on the RCMP to leave the First Nation’s territory in B.C.
The Coastal GasLink project is a 670-kilometre pipeline that would transport natural gas from Dawson Creek to Kitimat. It is already more than half completed. According to Coastal GasLink, almost all of the route is cleared and 200 kilometres of pipeline has already been installed.
TC Energy is the Calgary-based company that is building the pipeline.
The elected council of the Wet’suwet’en Nation and others nearby have agreed to the project, but it has been opposed by Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.
After the dispute resulted in protests and rail blockades across Canada last year, a memorandum of understanding was eventually signed between the hereditary chiefs and the federal and provincial governments, but tensions recently resumed.
Over the weekend, two journalists, including Edmontonian Amber Bracken, were among 15 people arrested by the RCMP near a pipeline worksite. On Monday, the pair were released on conditions.
The RCMP said they were arrested after refusing to leave “building-like structures” near a drilling site for the pipeline
READ MORE: Journalists released with conditions after arrest at B.C. pipeline dispute
The arrests came days after members of the Gidimt’en clan, one of five in the Wet’suwet’en Nation, set up blockades along a forest service road.
In recent days, the RCMP have been enforcing an injunction against protesters who have set up the blockades along the road.
Mounties have said the blockades have obstructed critical supplies from getting through to pipeline workers.
READ MORE: RCMP prepare to ‘rescue’ B.C. pipeline workers as blockade stops flow of critical supplies
In a statement issued last week, Coastal GasLink said protesters’ actions had essentially left hundreds of pipeline workers “trapped” at work camps.
A hereditary chief posted a video last week in which he said he was “sorry” that workers have been caught in the middle of the dispute but added that Coastal GasLink was given notice that the road would be blocked. He said the RCMP was blocking a road, an action he said resulted in food and medical supplies not being able to get through to his people’s territory.
–With files form Elizabeth McSheffrey, Sarah Komadina, Global News and Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press
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