Students staged a mass walkout from universities across Canada
Yesterday, young people across Canada staged a coordinated walkout in a massive demonstration of support for Wet'suwet'en First Nation and its hereditary chiefs who continue to oppose the contentious Coastal GasLink pipeline that will cut through their land in northern B.C.
Thousands of students from at least 36 post-secondary institutions and high schools from coast-to-coast — including the University of Toronto, UBC, Dalhousie University, University of Ottawa, University of Calgary and Université du Québec à Montréal — participated in the national event.
Thanks to all the beautiful people who came out for yesterday's Student Walkout for Wet'suwet'en. But the RCMP and CGL are *still* on the Yintah. So, in solidarity with land defenders from coast to coast, the struggle continues! #ReconciliationIsDead #ShutDownCanada https://t.co/SrElknoZHu— All Eyes On #Wetsuweten (@ubc_students) March 5, 2020
The walkouts were not just in objection to the pipeline, but also to the continued RCMP surveillance and presence on Wet'suwet'en land and what the whole weeks-long ordeal has meant for Indigenous solidarity and reconciliation in Canada.
Work on the 670 km-long, $6.6-billion natural gas line continued on March 2 following talks between Wet'suwet'en chiefs and the B.C. and federal governments last weekend, which ended in some resolutions about the Wet'suwet'en peoples' land and title rights, but not about the fate of the forthcoming pipeline itself.
Yesterday, Interim leader @JoAnnRobertsHFX joined the hundreds of Halifax students in a walkout in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs. #wetsuwetenstrong pic.twitter.com/CMoCxINtwn— Green Party Canada (@CanadianGreens) March 5, 2020
Some B.C. students participating in the event made their way to the B.C. legislature in Victoria, where a demonstration organized by Indigenous Youth for Wet’suwet’en took place.
A group of activists were later arrested and removed from the legislature after occupying a room in the building following a meeting with Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser.
Other students, like those in Vancouver and Toronto, blocked traffic on major roads, which has been a common tactic of protests across the country over the past month. Transportation was impacted in some new locations yesterday as a result.
Due to marches at UBC, Langara and SFU some buses are experiencing delays. Check alerts for specific information for detours or delays.— TransLink BC (@TransLink) March 5, 2020
The walkouts were largely organized by a number of local groups and organizations ranging from student associations to human rights coalitions.
Rallies and transportation blockades continue all over Canada for the fourth week in a row now as First Nations and allies refuse to back down until their demands are met.
Student walkout in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en #WetsuwetenStrong pic.twitter.com/folKTp01LY— Павло (@emptysituation1) March 4, 2020
Though 20 elected band councils did initially sign off on the Coastal GasLink pipeline, some Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs are still opposed, and have vowed to protect their land — which led to numerous controversial arrests by police on Wet'suwet'en land and elsewhere in Canada.
Additional layers — like a legacy of colonization and Indigenous genocide, the RCMP's treatment of media trying to document the events and the fact that RCMP pensions are invested into the company behind the pipeline — make the issue even more complex and delicate.
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