Protesters, in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, gathered on the Canadian National Railway (CN) line in Vancouver, Canada, to protest the building of the Coastal GasLink pipeline through traditional Indigenous territory.
The blockade comes days after a separate, non-violent protest was initiated at the Port of Vancouver where more than 40 ships waited at anchor to prevent the entry of any ship to the port. As a result, the Port Authority issued a court injunction forcing the vessels to be gone by the end of the week.
“The disruption to port operations over the past four days has had a significant impact on Canadians across the country, who rely on the businesses that import and export goods through the port for employment and for the products that support each of us every day. While we respect the right to peaceful protest, the port authority has a legislated federal responsibility to ensure the safe and efficient movement of Canada’s trade through the port, so we have been forced to take steps through a court order to restore port operations.”- Port of Vancouver
Meanwhile, 25 protesters under the name Red Braid Alliance gathered to prevent any traffic in and out of Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) Coquitlam, another rail yard that directly feeds into the Port of Vancouver.
“We’re going to hold the blockade until the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is out of the Wet’suwet’en (territory), or we’re forced to move along,” said Isabel Krupp, spokesperson for the Red Braid Alliance. “We have supplies and we have reinforcements coming.”
The Port of Vancouver handles more than $500 million worth of imports and exports every day.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called for peace as his government seeks to end the blockades.
“I know that people’s patience is running short. We need to find a solution and we need to find it now,” Trudeau told parliament on Tuesday. The dispute should be settled by “dialogue and mutual respect” and not through force, he added.
The Port of Vancouver said it expects its backlog to persist in the short term.
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