Protesters could be staying at least through the week on the steps of the legislature in support of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and Tyendinaga Mohawks, says a member of the group.
“We’re here for the long haul,” said Saul Brown. “We were here for six days before.”
The group is at the legislature’s ceremonial entrance, but Brown said “no comment” when asked if anyone was chained to the doorway.
About 250 people were there as the rally got underway Monday afternoon. Indigenous people have been demonstrating across Canada to back the chiefs’ opposition to a natural-gas pipeline in their territory in northern B.C., including the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, who set up a rail blockade in eastern Ontario.
“What we’ve been saying through this whole movement is that if this happens to one Indigenous nation, it has, can and will continue to happen to other Indigenous nations,” Brown said.
He criticized injunctions granted against protesters, saying they were “overly broad” and criminalized Indigenous law.
Local protesters said they were at the legislature for a peaceful rally and to make their voices heard.
“We are not here seeking arrest,” said Kolin Sutherland-Wilson, who called being at the legislature and speaking out “our duty as Indigenous youth.”
As many as eight police officers were on the stairs with protesters for the first part of the protest.
The demonstrators are there in spite of an injunction prohibiting them from blocking, physically obstructing or intimidating anyone entering the legislature building. It does not bar them from being on the grounds.
The injunction was granted Feb. 13, two days after Wet’suwet’en supporters blocked the entrances to the B.C. legislature.
Brown said the protesters are asking for whatever help people can give them.
“We’re calling for food, blankets, water, charging docks.”
He said there is also a call for people to come to the site to give them strength in numbers.
“We are formally requesting people stick around.”
Ta’kaiya Blaney said the group has a specific purpose.
“Our business here is cultural,” she said. “Our business here is love.”