Indigenous youth in B.C. pledge to continue fight against pipeline

VICTORIA — Traffic was moving Wednesday night on a major highway in the Victoria area after a protest blocked the road earlier in the day.

About 100 people were blocking the Patricia Bay Highway Wednesday afternoon, said Sgt. Paul Brailey of the Central Saanich Police.

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BC Drive said there was still heavy congestion on the highway Wednesday evening, but the road was clear.

Police issued warnings on social media ahead of the planned blockade and Brailey said members of the public appeared to have heeded advice to avoid the area. Brailey said detours were also in effect while the road was blocked.

Earlier in the day, the British Columbia government obtained a court injunction empowering police to arrest and remove people blocking the highway in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs.

The injunction came as about 100 Indigenous youth staged a rally on the front steps of the B.C. legislature, vowing to continue to hold protests at government buildings and rail lines. The youth have been camping at the building's ceremonial gates since Monday despite an earlier court injunction prohibiting protests that block entrances at the legislature.

Ta'Kaiya Blaney told supporters at the legislature that those who do not stand with them are complicit in ongoing injustices against Indigenous Peoples.

"In standing with our Wet'suwet'en relatives we will occupy ministry offices, rail lines and legislative and parliamentary precincts in order to hold all levels of the Canadian government responsible for their perpetuation of Canada's genocidal legacy," she said.

Blaney said the youth want the RCMP and pipeline company Coastal GasLink to leave Wet'suwet'en territory.

Saul Brown said the people camped at the legislature are unwavering in their support of the Wet'suwet'en chiefs. He said the supporters are prepared to stay at the legislature because "we are on the right side of history"

"We are peaceful. We are unarmed," said Brown. "We are here in ceremony and we are here in love."

Victoria police have been stationed outside the B.C. legislature since Monday, but have made no arrests. A separate injunction also gives police the discretion to act when they choose.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Feb. 26, 2020.

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