Sophia Seward-Good, front, and Snuneymuxw First Nation members show support for Wet’suwet’en protesters opposing the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern B.C. during a rally at Maffeo Sutton Park on Saturday. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)

Snuneymuxw, Nanaimo residents stand in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en in pipeline protest

Anti-Coastal GasLink pipeline protest took place at Maffeo Sutton Park on Saturday

With opponents of Coastal GasLink pipeline construction being arrested earlier this week, a protest was held at Maffeo Sutton Park in Nanaimo this afternoon, in support of Wet’suwet’en First Nation.

Six people were arrested Thursday, near Houston, B.C., and members of Snuneymuxw First Nation and others gathered at Nanaimo Lions Pavilion on Saturday, to express outrage and show solidarity to those against the pipeline in Wet’suwet’en territory.

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Leo Naziel, a Wet’suwet’en Laksilyu clan member, was among the speakers and expressed gratitude for the support.

“One thing that our people always said is we’re doing this to save our waters,” said Naziel. “One thing I said at the sweat lodge, years ago, my prayers are for my people, for the people, our kids, for our future generations. I’m not home right now. I’d love to be home, but one thing that I send back home are my prayers. Your prayers, you standing here, those are prayers of hope. That’s what we need.”

Paul Manly, Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP, travelled up to Wet’suwet’en territory recently and said the pipeline is invading traditional territory.

“When I met with Chief Namoks, one of the things that he told me was they proposed an alternate route for Coastal GasLink and when you read the injunction that recognizes that the Wet’suwet’en people have asked Coastal GasLink to take another route, and they proposed another route, and [it] said no … they are driving through territory, pristine territory running right through the historic Kweese trail,” said Manly.

According to Manly, the trail is thousands of years old, has ancient burial grounds and archaeological sites on it.

“This is where they do their cultural training for their young people,” said Manly. “This is where they do their hunting and their trapping and their berry picking. This is where they built a healing centre … which is being attacked today. This is their territory and these blockades they have set up, they are asserting their sovereignty over their territory.”

The go-ahead has been given from provincial and federal levels of government for construction of the 670-kilometre pipeline, from Dawson Creek to a liquefied natural gas facility in Kitimat, but Wet’swet’en hereditary chiefs are at odds with the project, citing protection of lands.

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