Nationwide protests and railway and highway occupations were organized across Canada in February in support of the five indigenous clans of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in northern British Columbia, Canada, who are fighting to stop a natural gas pipeline from being built across their land. The solidarity protests brought Canada to a virtual standstill and brought out the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The 416-mile pipeline is being built to bring fracked gas from Dawson Creek to a coastal liquefied natural gas export facility. The company building the pipeline, Coastal GasLink, is a subsidiary of TransCanada, the Canadian corporation that is still hoping to build the Keystone XL pipeline.
Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus spoke with a national indigenous leader to get a her perspective on the campaign to stop the pipeline. Eriel Tchekwie Deranger is a member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation of Northern Alberta, and co-founder and executive director of Indigenous Climate Action. Here, she references the last indigenous uprising of this magnitude – a land dispute between a group of Mohawk people and the town of Oka, Quebec, Canada, which lasted for 78 days in 1990, and discusses ongoing youth-led protests, solidarity actions and the larger issue of indigenous rights and governance.