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Dozens of people gather in Charlottetown in support of Wet'suwet'en protests

Stephenson Joe, holds his flag and traditional drum at a Wet'suwet'en Solidarity protest in front on Province House on Saturday, Feb. 15. Ernesto Carranza/The Guardian
Stephenson Joe, holds his flag and traditional drum at a Wet'suwet'en Solidarity protest in front on Province House on Saturday, Feb. 15. Ernesto Carranza/The Guardian

Around 100 protesters from all over Charlottetown gathered in front of Province House on Saturday afternoon, to show solidarity with Wet’suwet’en pipeline protesters in B.C.

Many Charlottetown protesters carried signs, critical of RCMP and federal government responses to the Wet’suwet’en Nation’s blockades against the Coastal GasLink pipeline project.

The pipeline would carry natural gas from the Dawson Creek area to a facility near Kitimat, through traditional Wet’suwet’en Nation territory, where it will be processed.

The B.C. protests were highly publicized in past weeks, sparking protests of solidarity across the country and shutting down Canadian railways.

Many Indigenous and non-Indigenous Charlottetown protesters chanted and cheered against the pipeline on Saturday.

“I am proud to be standing in solidarity with my brothers and sisters in Wet'suwet'en Territory,” said Stephenson Joe, a Mi’kmaq man who came with his wife and daughter to the protest.

“If I can’t be (in Wet’suwet’en Territory) physically, I’d like to be there in spirit and prayer. Thoughts have wings and prayers have wings and they are with them as I stand here right now.”

Originally from Esgenoôpetitj First Nation, Joe said he's lived on the Island for the past three years.

For Joe, to see around people from around the Island show up to the protest was a moving sign of solidarity with the protesters in B.C.

“It is very important to see this, especially our non-aboriginal allies here with us,” he said.

“I see a lot of people on social media treating these protests like a race war or something, either because they don’t quite understand or they refuse to understand why we are standing-up.”

The threat the Coastal GasLink pipeline poses is a great threat to the Wet’suwet’en people’s water and land, said Joe, and a great threat to all the people leaving in the area.

“They think we are trying to make a mess they think it is civil disobedience… we have to stand-up and hopefully Canada will stand down and leave the unceded Wet’suwet’en territory alone,” he said.

“That’s why it’s important for us to stand here, native or non-native. We are all family in the Creators eyes. We are all in this world together and we can’t survive with poisoned water. Bottom line is, no pipelines.”

Katelyn Sock, holds up her sign that reads Indigenous rights = Your rights at Saturday's protest. Ernesto Carranza/The Guardian

For Katelyn Sock, it was important to be at Saturday’s protest and show solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en people and raise awareness about the environmental impact the pipeline could have.

“This is double the problem we are facing, because not only is it Indigenous rights that are being intruded on, it is also your rights as a person to get clean water,” she said.

Enrolled in wildlife conservation technology at Holland College and an off-reserve band member of Abegweit First Nation, Sock said the Coastal GasLink pipeline represents a harmful cycle of Canada’s abuse against Indigenous peoples and the land.

She said she was heartened by the turnout at the Charlottetown protest.

“I am Mi’kmaq. As small as Charlottetown is, it is amazing to see so many people come together and fight for something they believe in. For our people,” said Sock.

Sock said she thinks there will continue to be problems if the Canadian government doesn’t come to the table with the Wet’suwet’en peoples and resolve issues surrounding the pipeline.

“This isn’t reconciliation. I don’t know what Justin Trudeau is doing.”

Twitter.com/Ernesto_Carranz

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