Indigenous rights protesters storm B.C. attorney general’s office, target UBC

Protesters supporting Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in their opposition to a natural gas pipeline through northern B.C. chose a pair of new targets Thursday.

Several dozen demonstrators, who call themselves land and water protectors, gathered at the Kitsilano Community Centre before storming B.C. Attorney General David Eby‘s constituency office.

1:58Protests become more than anti-pipeline

Protests become more than anti-pipeline

The group is demanding a meeting with Eby and the withdrawal of the RCMP and Coastal GasLink from Wet’suwet’en territory.

“The Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs are practicing Anuk Nu’at’en (Wet’suwet’en Law) in opposition to the colonial Canadian legal system,” said Herb Varley, one of the Indigenous organizers of the protest.

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“We are disrupting business as usual in David Eby’s office to highlight his hand in the ongoing genocide of Indigenous peoples required by the Canadian colonial project.”

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As protesters poured into the office, one staffer was reportedly so frightened she locked herself in the washroom until police arrived.

Drivers were being warned to expect possible traffic disruptions, after protesters shut down the Granville Street Bridge for hours on Wednesday, the intersection of Cambie Street and Broadway on Tuesday and access to the Port of Vancouver on Sunday and Monday.

Vancouver police arrested 43 people at the Port blockade after the facility sought a court injunction.

Another group of demonstrators blockaded the intersection of Wesbrook Mall and University Boulevard Thursday.

Premier says there is a plan for expected protests of B.C. government buildings Friday

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The blockade forced TransLink to temporarily re-route several bus routes, including the 25, 33, 49, 480 R4 as a result.

On its Twitter account, UBC Students Against Bigotry — which said it had members participating but did not organize the action — said the demonstration was meant to bring “economic blockades to the provincial centre of colonial knowledge production.”

1:51Wetsuweten Protest

Wetsuweten Protest

“The University is policed by the same RCMP who have violently invaded the Yintah to remove Indigenous people,” said the group.

#UBC has hosted plenty of anti-Indigenous speakers. But more importantly, universities have long served as engines of genocide; from ignoring Indigenous peoples and their knowledges, to producing eurocentric knowledge and a colonial elite intent on eliminating them altogether.”

UBC said RCMP were on scene, and that it recognized the issue was a “complex dispute with strong differences in viewpoints.”

The last time protests interrupted B.C.’s throne speech, things got even uglier

Thursdays actions were just two of dozens of protests that have sprung up across the country since the RCMP moved into traditional, unceded Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C. to enforce a court injunction on behalf of the Coastal GasLink project.

The $6.6-billion project is meant to carry natural gas from northeastern B.C. to Kitimat.

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The company has signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected Indigenous councils along the route.

But hereditary chiefs who oppose the project say elected councils only have jurisdiction over First Nations reserves. The hereditary chiefs claim authority over rights and title to land that was never covered by treaty.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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