pipeline protest

Thousands shut down Bloor Street for Wet'suwet'en solidarity march in Toronto

Demonstrations in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en First Nation have been taking place across the country over the past two weeks, with Toronto being just one of many sites of marches and sit-ins in defence of land and water protectors and Indigenous sovereignty.

Activists and allies have shut down city streets, ports, railways, border crossings and government buildings in opposition to the RCMP's move to clear out key work sites for the $6.6 billion Coastal GasLink pipeline that is due to cut through unceded territory in northern B.C.

On Family Day, thousands took to one of Toronto's main thoroughfares to march for the cause, weilding signs with sayings like "people over pipelines" and "your silence fuels colonial violence" as they halted traffic along Bloor Street.

The group started at Christie Pits, moving eastward for about two hours while chanting things like "you can't drink oil, keep it in the soil" and "when justice fails, block the rails."

Police were on the scene at Queen's Park, the demonstration's end point, where speeches, songs and dancing took place.

Tensions surrounding the ongoing dispute ramped up significantly after February 7, when RCMP officers began arresting more than 20 protesters on Wet'swet'en land to enforce a Supreme Court injunction so work on the natural gas pipeline could commence.

Rail blockades at key transportation points across Canada have been particularly effective at drawing attention to the cause, as hundreds of freight and commuter trains have been cancelled for days, putting a massive strain on the national economy.

Talks and court injunctions have broken up some of the demonstrations, while activists continue to occupy other sites in the face of police presence and orders for them to leave.

Justin Trudeau has expressed his concern over the protests, but has said that there is no quick fix given the federal government's long history of failing Indigenous peoples. Many find the RCMP's invasion of Wet'suwet'en land to be flying in the face of any attempts at reconciliation.

Though Coastal Gaslink has signed agreements with 20 elected First Nations band councils along the pipeline's route, there are still some hereditary Wet'suwet'en Nation chiefs who are not in support of the project. 

Lead photo by

Dakota Bear

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