Indigenous youth at B.C. legislature say they won't leave, won't be intimidated by white supremacists
Published Saturday, February 29, 2020 5:43PM PST Last Updated Saturday, February 29, 2020 6:53PM PST
VANCOUVER -- Indigenous young people and their allies who have been demonstrating on the steps of the B.C. legislature in Victoria for the last several days say their presence attracted some unwanted attention Friday night.
According to the group Indigenous Youth for Wet'suwet'en, white supremacists circled the legislature building in their vehicles in an attempt to intimidate the demonstrators.
"They would circle around the roads around this building and just honk continuously in an attempt to intimidate us," said Ta'Kaiya Blaney, one of the organizers of the Indigenous youth group. "One of them approached my dad and told him that he shouldn't be here and that it was dangerous in the morning."
Blaney said white supremacist groups have put out calls on social media in the last week for their members to commit vigilante violence against Indigenous protesters and their allies across the country.
In response to the visit from white supremacists Friday night, Indigenous Youth for Wet'suwet'en put out its own call, asking for allies to come increase the group's numbers at the legislature.
Since then, they haven't had any more visits from white supremacists, Blaney said, but they're still concerned.
"We know that they are around and could potentially strike when (we're) vulnerable," she said.
Indigenous Youth for Wet'suwet'en says it is gathered in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline that is slated to be built through their traditional territory. The group has been camping out on the legislature steps overnight to put pressure on the governments of Canada and British Columbia.
While representatives from both the province and the federal government have been meeting with hereditary chiefs since Thursday, Blaney said the group at the legislature isn't planning to leave any time soon.
"We're not holding our breaths for the negotiations that are currently taking place," she said. "We will remain here until we've received genuine proof that RCMP and CGL will be completely removed from Wet'suwet'en territories in accordance with the demands of the leadership."
The chiefs and their allies say they are defending Wet'suwet'en land from Coastal GasLink and the RCMP, which arrested several people along the pipeline route in early February.
Police there were enforcing an injunction on behalf of the company, which has agreements with all 20 elected Indigenous band councils along the pipeline route.
The hereditary chiefs who oppose the pipeline assert responsibility for protecting a broader traditional territory than the elected leaders, whose authority comes from the Indian Act and applies primarily to land use and governance on reserves.