Around 50 people stood in support of the Wet’suwet’en Nation in Campbell River Wednesday.
They held a rally on the Pier Street sidewalk outside the office building shared by MP Rachel Blaney and MLA Claire Trevena.
They carried a variety of signs that read: “We Stand with Wet’suwet’en,” “Indigenous Sovereignty = Climate Justice,” and “RCMP Stand Down,” among others.
Organizer Geraldine Kenny, a member of the Quadra Island chapter of the Sierra Club of B.C, said they “rallied the forces” to get people out to protest the way the B.C. government is handling B.C. First Nations.
“Specifically when reconciliation seems to be the most important part, but this is not reconciliation, this is confrontation,” she said. “So we’re here to support the Wet’suwet’en people, especially the hereditary chiefs.”
Wet’suwet’en supporters stood on the sidewalk immediately in front of the building as well as the sidewalk across the street. They did not block traffic. A handful of RCMP members stood off to the side.
A few people spoke, but many opted to stand quietly with their signs.
One supporter, who asked not to be named fearing threats for her safety, said that if we don’t stand up, “it could be in our backyard next time.”
“This is a Canadian issue,” she said.
Indigenous ally Jack Seigel, of Quadra Island, said he was attending the event to show his support for the Indigenous people of Canada.
“I would like to be a proud Canadian and at this point, I’m embarrassed and angered and frustrated in so many ways,” he said. “This is related to Indigenous rights and respect and what was supposed to be reconciliation, which we’re seeing total denial of at this point.”
Neither MP Blaney nor MLA Trevena was in the office at the time of the rally. However, Blaney’s constituency assistant, Lucas Schuller came out to read a statement to the growing crowd.
He said that Blaney was not able to attend as she was at a funeral near Powell River, but that she had spoken “at length on this issue … with a lot of passion and a lot of reflection.”
“The situation we’re seeing in Wet’suwet’en territory is the result of a broken system. It was broken intentionally, by a history of colonialism and racism that has kept many Indigenous communities in poverty, deprived of dignity and economic opportunity and with their traditional means of governance and decision-making usurped,” Blaney’s statement said. “As a country, we are only just starting to come to terms with that history let alone trying to work to fix it. It is hard.
“It is uncomfortable, but it is something we all have to work through.”
In her statement, Blaney encouraged people to be patient and to keep an open mind.
“We need to have open hearts and we need to be prepared to be uncomfortable,” her statement said. “Human rights have to come before corporate rights.”
In Blaney’s statement, she also encouraged Indigenous allies to be aware of their actions.
“We always need to be asking who is most impacted by our statements and our actions,” Schuller read. “We need to make sure that as allies and participants in this process, we’re not accidentally causing more harm and reopening wounds to those who are at the centre of it.”
Schuller finished off by saying that Blaney and her colleagues are “calling for the RCMP to stand down in Wet’suwet’en territory and we’re calling on the B.C. government and the federal government to begin genuine discussions with the hereditary chiefs.”
The Mirror reached out to MLA Claire Trevena’s office, but did not receive a comment before deadline.
Wednesday’s rally followed a similar event from the weekend, which saw land defenders and allies occupy two lanes in front of the RCMP building for about an hour Sunday afternoon.
Another event is being planned for Feb. 16.
George Quocksister Jr., Hereditary Chief of the Laichkwiltach Nation, said they will meet at 12:30 p.m. at the old Target location in Discovery Harbour Marina and march along the foreshore.