An update to our previous story on Wet’suwet’en protests in Halifax was printed in our Feb. 2020 edition.
On February 12th, upwards of 150 people organized to block the Fairview Cove Container Terminal and the gate to the terminal in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land and water protectors.
The RCMP in British Columbia are removing Indigenous protestors from their traditional territory, so Coastal Gas Link can get through to continue the heavily debated pipeline project.
Grandmother Darlene asked Inspector Nichols if she understood what giving tobacco nation to nation means, Nichols stated she did not know.
Indigenous nations say that the RCMP presence on Wet’suwet’en is in violation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Article 10 states, Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories. No relocation shall take place without the free, prior and informed consent of the Indigenous peoples concerned and after agreement on just and fair compensation and, where possible, with the option of return.
Protesters chant, “Water is life. Respect Indigenous rights, along with “Who do you serve? Who do you protect? Get your boots off native necks!” to the beat of four-hand drummers.
Masuma Khan organized the protest “due to the call out made by the Wet’suwet’en matriarchs, and land defenders.” Khan said they chose the location to aid the Shut Down Canada action.
The Shut Down Canada action is a series of linked protests formed by land defenders to shut down railroads and major streets across Canada to raise awareness over the ongoing tensions in Wet’suwet’en.
The police attended both locations of the rally. They were maintaining a distance of about 50 meters from the protestors.
Police set up pylons to help direct traffic away. The lower blockade began to chant “No!” as Isp Caroline Nichols Halifax Regional Police requests that some vehicles be allowed to pass through the protestors and leave.
Nichols stated she was on scene because “We want to make sure your protest is peaceful, and it’s safe, and it’s lawful.” A protestor spoke over her saying, “There’s no weapons there’s gonna be no violence, the only violence will be by the hands of the police.”
Grandmother Darlene offered Nichols tobacco, this offering is an act of respect and the creation of peace between two or more parties. Nichols turned down Grandmother Darlene’s offer before stating she did not see what Grandmother Darlene was holding.
Grandmother Darlene asked Nichols if she understood what giving tobacco nation to nation means, Nichols stated she did not know.
Khan said “The so called Indigenous liaison was a piece of trash. She didn’t accept the tobacco from Grandmother Darlene. She stated that she’s an Indigenous liaison because she got training from the OPP in Ottawa. This means nothing.” Khan believes that officers need better training if they are going to hold the title of Indigenous liaison.
Two truck drivers attempted to drive through the crowds at both ends. The first, at the lower blockade, stopped five feet from the line of protestors, and asked permission from the elders to leave.
The second truck driver, at the main blockade, slowly drove up to the line of protestors and attempted to push through. The driver only halted when a protestor and police intervened. Three protesters stood against the front of the truck as police spoke with the driver.
A police car later tried to drive through the blockade but was blocked by Grandmother Darlene and other protestors. The police officer driving the vehicle refused to give her name but did leave the protest via a different route.
Bijoux Doucette is showing his support because “I think Indigenous sovereignty is important; I think that Indigenous people’s rights are being trampled on by the Canadian government.”
He is carrying the Acadian flag alongside a man carrying a Red Mohawk Native American flag.
“This is not England, this is unceded Mi’kmaq territory, and I, as an Acadian person, recognize that.”
Peter Emond is sitting in his idling tractor-trailer behind the main group of protestors. He was eager to leave but supported the cause. His wife, an Indigenous woman, is also showing her support for Wet’suwet’en in Ontario.
The picture used for this article was taken at a different protest on Sunday February 23.