More than 150 people blocked commercial access to a busy Halifax port on Wednesday afternoon in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land protectors in B.C.
Rally participants split up, with some holding signs and chanting on Bayne Road. Another group stood about 200 metres down the road, blocking a railway crossing in front of the Fairview Cove Container Terminal.
“The Shut Down Canada” event is one of many taking place across Canada supporting Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief’s opposition to a 670-kilometre pipeline being built on their territory. A court-ordered injunction has prompted arrests of those blocking access to the pipeline site, which is on Wet’suwet’en territory.
“The RCMP is invading our traditional territories and removing peaceful protestors from their land,” said one Mi’kmaw person, who gave their name as Gjigaqaquj.
“We’re here in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en nation, who has jurisdiction over 200,000 square kilometres of their traditional territories.”
At one point, a Halifax Regional Police (HRP) car drove toward the group, which stood spread out across the railway crossing. The car seemed to be attempting to pass through the crowd.
“I stepped in front of them to stop [the police car] from going, and she proceeded to push her car forward onto my legs,” said Darlene Gilbert, a Mi’kmaw grandmother who rallied against the Alton Gas construction project in Nova Scotia.
“I was protecting the youth, that’s what grandmothers do,” she said. “We step in front for the youth, we protect what’s behind us.”
Halifax police spokesperson Cst. John McLeod said in an email there were no reports of this incident as of late afternoon Wednesday.
More than 15 cargo trucks idled behind and in front of the two groups, while police cars were positioned beside the train tracks and in front of the group standing on Bayne Road. Cars not associated with industry, including people passing through for work, were allowed through.
While Wet’suwet’en lands are located at the other end of the country, many in attendance spoke to the connection between Indigenous people across Canada in the face of colonization.
“They were violated with violence and guns upon them for standing and existing on their land,” Michelle Paul, a woman standing beside the railway crossing, told HRP officers.
In B.C., RCMP officers set up exclusion zones blocking supporters and media from entering the site of the blockade. They’ve also arrested dozens of protesters including Freda Hudson, one of the encampment’s primary organizers.
With files from Dominique Amit
About the author
Sam calls Orillia, Ontario home. When he's not chasing Signal stories, he can be found sketching in cafes, watching soccer or following news...