KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – This Sunday well over 500 people gathered at the Halifax Peace and Freedom Park, the former site of the Cornwallis statue, to listen to speeches, participate in a massive round dance, and march through the streets of downtown Halifax in solidarity with the embattled Wet’suwet’en Nation.
Demonstrations and blockades have been occurring throughout the country ever since the hereditary We’tsuwet’en chiefs evicted CGL workers, and the RCMP began to amass personnel and equipment outside of blockades erected at checkpoints to Wet’ suwet’en lands.
Here in Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw people have been spearheading the support actions, being well aware of the similarities between their efforts to stop projects such as Alton Gas and the forces opposing the autonomy of the Wet’suwet’en Nation.
“The cause has not changed one bit since the Lubicon Lake Band, the Zappatistas, Oka, all of it has remained exactly the same issue. It is referred to as protests, But we are not here protesting, we are here asserting the sovereign rights of the Wet’suwet’en people,” said elder Billy Lewis.
“When you see something on the TV or read something in the paper, I can guarantee that they are going to obscure the real issue, and that is the independence and the sovereignty of the people they are talking about,” Lewis said.
Linguist and storyteller Dr. Bernie Francis pointed out similarities between Wet’suwet’en and Mi’kmaq governance.
“The Wet’suwet’en people have their traditional leaders, it’s a similar kind of thing here. We call it the Sante’ Mawiomi or the Mi’kmaq Grand Council. We also have what is being referred to as the Indian Act chiefs, that is, chiefs who are appointed through the Indian Act,” Francis said.
In Nova Scotia our chiefs of the 13 reserves and the Grand Council come together and talk about things. It’s not always easy, they have some powerful discussions but they do come to an understanding, eventually, said Francis.
Much misinformation about the reason for blockades and their effects is being spread by the government and media.
“On February 6th, the RCMP began a series of heavily militarized raids aimed at removing Wet’suwet’en land defenders from their unceded territory in order to make way for the CGL project. The RCMP have remained on Wet’suwet’en territory, despite calls by Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs for their immediate withdrawal, as well as the suspension of the CGL project,” states a press release issued by march organizers.
“Canadians need to realize that we are our own nations being held captive by Canada. We should have access to our own resources, we should have our own vital statistics, everything. This is bigger than just one pipeline, this is about all the indigenous nations and their sovereignty,” Mi’kmaq inherent rights holder Rebecca Moore points out in that release.
Sunday’s rally came just one day after some 150 protesters engaged in a peaceful slow down of traffic along Highway 104 close to the Canso Causeway.
Here in Halifax solidarity actions have included a blockade at the Fairview Cove Container Terminal, the disruption of a visit by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and a sit-in at the office of Halifax Liberal MP Andy Fillmore.
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