Organizers of Wet’suwet’en solidarity rallies Kolin Sutherland-Wilson and Ta’Kaiya Blaney spoke at the University of Victoria’s Student Union Building Friday evening with Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

David Suzuki joins Indigenous youth for UVic press conference

Conference follows Wet’suwet’en solidarity actions that continue across Victoria and B.C.

Canadian academic and scientist David Suzuki joined Indigenous youth at the University of Victoria Friday evening for a press conference in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and supporters.

Suzuki joined leaders of the Greater Victoria movement Kolin Sutherland-Wilson and Ta’Kaiya Blaney, who said they were disappointed with portrayals of the demonstration.

“We have essentially been vilified in the media for simply standing up for our rights and doing everything we could in order to communicate with a government that essentially does not want to hear what we have to say,” said Sutherland-Wilson.

READ ALSO: Demonstrators block government buildings across Greater Victoria

The press conference followed a rally of Wet’suwet’en supporters across Victoria, standing in solidarity with hereditary chiefs in opposition of the Coastal GasLink pipeline. Indigenous youth and allied demonstrators gathered in peaceful protest outside at least 30 government buildings.

The Victoria Police Department noted afterwards that there were no traffic disruptions or serious incidents during the protests.

“Officers are thanking the protest organizers and participants for their efforts to keep this morning’s protest safe and peaceful.”

That movement followed weeks of demonstrations in Victoria, as RCMP began enforcing injunctions on Wet’suwet’en anti-pipeline camps. In South Vancouver Island, demonstrations began on Jan. 20 with the shutdown of the Swartz Bay ferry terminal and were followed by sit-ins at government buildings, include a six-day camp on the steps of the BC Legislature building.

READ ALSO: B.C. hereditary chiefs ban Coastal GasLink from Wet’suwet’en lands

Protests outside the government building grew heated on Feb. 11 when supporters blocked MLAs from entering to attend the speech from the throne. In the days that followed the Victoria Police Department said it was investigating allegations of assault that included non-life threatening injuries and damages to equipment.

At the Friday press conference, Indigenous speakers addressed those claims, saying that legal observers documented their observations and found that “Indigenous youth and their representatives communicated regularly to supporters to stay peaceful, abide by police requests and refrain from engaging in violence.”

Premier John Horgan has said the pipeline – part of a $40-billion LNG Canada export terminal project – offers vital economic and social support to northern B.C. The pipeline has received approval from 20 elected First Nations councils along its proposed route, however hereditary chiefs say the elected chiefs’ power comes only from the Indian Act and is limited to reserve land.

READ ALSO: Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs take Canada’s environmental assessment system to court

David Suzuki spoke at the University of Victoria’s Student Union Building in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en supporters. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Sutherland-Wilson said the history of the issue has been largely left out of the popular narrative.

“The Indian Act system was deliberately introduced to replace our governments, to confine us to reserves and to ultimately control us in order to have access to our territories, and that’s the history of it,” he said.

David Suzuki spoke briefly of his history as an environmentalist.

“You’re engaged now in a battle, that I believe is the Titanic battle over the future of this planet that is going to be fought over the next few years,” he said. “Over the next few years we’re going to determine which way we’re going to take it across this moment in time.”

– With files from Kendra Crighton.

READ ALSO: BC Legislature fountain runs red on fifth day of sit-in



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich police see spike in excessive speeding compared to previous years

Nearly 100 excessive speeders caught since January 2020

Colwood branch drop-off to continue throughout summer

COVID-19 safety measures remain in place

Welcome to grilling season: Saanich firefighter talks barbecue safety tips

Grills should be cleaned, serviced prior to use, firefighter says

Cycling scavenger hunt comes to Tweed City

Cyclists scour Oak Bay for clues in Bike to Work Week event

Colwood woman launches Adopt a Grad

Facebook page aims to support students during pandemic

11 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. as top doc urges caution amid ‘encouraging’ low rates

Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced that two care home outbreaks would be declared over

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

$200,000 Maybach impounded after ‘L’ driver caught excessively speeding in Vancouver

Meanwhile, the supervisor sat in the passenger seat, police said

Most Read