‘Reconciliation is dead and we will shut down Canada,’ Wet’suwet’en supporters say

The company also said it has been granted court injunctions against the blockades in Ontario and B.C. and is working with local authorities to enforce them. Garneau told reporters in Calgary that it is up to the provinces to enforce those orders. "It's a complex issue and hopefully we will be able to resolve this as quickly as possible," he said.

Tensions over the Coastal GasLink project flared up in recent weeks after the company building the natural gas pipeline, TC Energy, obtained an injunction[1] against any construction blockades from B.C.'s top court. While all 20 elected First Nations band councils from the region have signed benefit-sharing deals connected with the project, hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en nation have claimed the pipeline can't proceed through unceded traditional territory without their consent.

The 670-km pipeline would carry liquified natural gas from northeastern B.C. to a port in Kitimat, where a conglomerate of companies is building a £40-billion export terminal that Ottawa has boasted as the largest private-sector project in Canadian history. As RCMP in B.C. enforced the court order to clear demonstrators blocking the pipeline construction, arresting 21 people in recent days, demonstrations in support of the Wet'suwet'en sprung up across the country, sparking questions about Ottawa's commitment to Indigenous reconciliation and calls for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to meet[2] with the chiefs opposing the project. In Victoria, hundreds of protesters blocked entrances to the B.C. legislature, chanting "shame" and "shut down Canada." The government there was forced to cancel parts of the ceremony surrounding its throne speech scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

Outside Belleville, the blockade of CN tracks near Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory continued for its sixth day, while demonstrators from the Kahnawake Mohawk community south of Montreal blocked commuter trains into Quebec's biggest city. More Wet'suwet'en supporters blocked traffic along the CN line in B.C. between Prince George and Prince Rupert. Some federal ministers are facing protests of their own, as Indigenous youth protesters staged sit-ins Tuesday at the justice department near Parliament Hill, where they met with the minister's chief of staff, and at Bennett's constituency office in north Toronto.

In a written statement, Bennett's office confirmed she met with demonstrators Tuesday, but reiterated that police action and the pipeline are under B.C.'s authority. "The Minister will continue having important conversations with concerned members of the community about their priorities, including the climate change emergency and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples," the statement said. Speaking in Vancouver, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson echoed the federal government's stance that the Coastal GasLink disagreement is a provincial matter -- and that RCMP officers making arrests are doing their jobs. "At the end of the day we do, though, expect Canadians to abide by the law, and the RCMP is enforcing a court order," Wilkinson told reporters.

With files from The Canadian Press Alex Ballingall is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @aballinga

With files from The Canadian Press

Alex Ballingall is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics.

Follow him on Twitter: @aballinga

References

  1. ^ an injunction (www.coastalgaslink.com)
  2. ^ to meet (www.firstpeopleslaw.com)

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