Protesters in Kahnawake form rolling blockades in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs
MONTREAL -- Protesters in Kahnawake took to the roads Wednesday to form a rolling blockade in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs, who oppose a pipeline project in northern B.C. on their territory.
The event took place at around 1 p.m. Wednesday as protesters slowed traffic on highways 132 and 138 south of Montreal.
If completed, the pipeline would transport natural gas from Dawson Creek in northeastern B.C. to Kitimat on the coast. According to Coastal GasLink, the company administering the pipeline, the project is more than halfway finished.
Last week, Mounties in northern B.C. said they were enforcing an injunction barring protests from blocking an access road used by Coastal GasLink pipeline workers.
On Friday, the RCMP arrested 15 people -- including two journalists – following a series of protests that blocked access to that road.
“Canada must act quickly to bring an immediate end to the current volatile situation,” said Kahnawake Grand Chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer in a statement released on Tuesday.
The dispute over the 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline flared previously in 2019 and 2020, with land defenders in Kahnawake shutting down a portion of CP rail running through their community.
At the time, several other protests sprung up across the country, including nearby blockades in Listuguj, a Miꞌgmaq First Nation in eastern Quebec, and in Belleville, Ont.
Several people were arrested in 2020 when the RCMP enforced a court ruling which established an exclusion zone in areas where protesters were blocking access to the construction site.
Now, a year later, the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) said in their Tuesday statement that “no one wants a repeat of the events of early 2020, when anger and frustration over the RCMP’s heavy handed actions boiled over into protests across the country.”
The MCK called on Canadian decision-makers to meet face-to-face with local leaders to resolve the conflict.
“In 2020, the situation only de-escalated after high-level representatives from the federal and provincial governments sat with the Traditional Chiefs to come to an agreement,” read the statement.
“It is unfortunate that such recent history can so quickly be forgotten.”
In 2020, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs traveled to Kahnawake in their final stop on a tour of eastern communities that supported them.
At the time, a ceremony was held to formalize a partnership between traditional leaders of both communities.
The MCK said Tuesday it’s “committed to respecting and supporting this relationship by remaining available to offer its assistance, should this be requested."