A group of youth who support the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in their fight against Coastal GasLink (CGL) have have begun an organized sit-in the office of a Liberal MP in Manitoba.
Since just before 12:30 a group identifying itself as Indigenous Youth for Wet’suwet’en have been livestreaming from the office of Liberal MP and Minister of Northern Affairs Daniel Vandal in what they characterize as a “peaceful occupation” of the minister’s office.
The group has sent a letter of demands to Vandal which centre around holding Canada accountable to the hereditary chiefs in their opposition to the CGL project.
The group says their support extends across the country and includes numerous Indigenous nations who stand in solidarity with the hereditary chiefs.
It adds that they are committed to more “rolling occupations” in support of the hereditary chiefs if their demands are not met.
“We are committed to rolling occupations of the offices of Members of the Legislative Assembly, Members of Parliament, as well as banks invested in Coastal GasLink (CGL),” the letter to Vandal reads. “We independently act in solidarity because it is our understanding that Canada’s flagrant violation of Indigenous rights in unceded Wet’suwet’en territory sets an unacceptable precedent for Canada’s engagement with all indigenous nations. We are occupying your Winnipeg Constituency Office to encourage you to stand by Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs representing all five clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation in opposition to CGL.”
An unidentified individual filming the livestream added that they have been in contact with Vandal. They add he has currently not agreed to meet the group’s demands.
“Right now it just seems like they’re just trying to wait us out, wait to see when we’re going to leave” the individual says in the livestream. “But our plan is to not leave until our demands are met completely.”
In an emailed response to The Interior News Vandal said he respected the individuals’ right to speak their mind.
“The right to peaceful protest is a fundamental right of all Canadians,” said Vandal. “I am committed to meeting with them to hear their concerns in person.”
The hereditary chiefs were previously engaged in seven days of Wiggus (meaning respect in the Wet’suwet’en language) talks with Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser, however these ended apruptly on Feb. 4.
The Liberals have not sent anyone to meet with the hereditary chiefs and have indicated their belief the issue is solely a matter of provincial jurisdiction.