On February 15 many protestors in Kelowna assembled along the Harvey Avenue overpass in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en First Nation and hereditary chiefs opposing the pipeline project. The signs they brandished read messages such as “no tar sands” and “no pipelines.” In addition, they chanted “protectors not protestors.”
These protests arise over a controversial pipeline being planned to run through the traditional Wet’suwet’en territory in Northern British Columbia over which the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have authority.
In a statement released by Nanaimo-Ladysmith Green MP Paul Manly, he stated that many alternative routes were suggested by the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs. However, all of these suggestions were promptly ignored in favor of the current route.
This poses numerous concerns for Wet’suwet’en First Nation including the many environmental hazards posed by such a project, such as the contamination of water, as well it also violates indigenous land rights. Furthermore, the land through which the pipeline route seeks to cross is a vitally important cultural aspect of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation.
This protest in Kelowna hoped to show support for the Wet’suwet’en peoples during these troubling times and their decision to dissent the plan. As well, it hoped to raise awareness about this issue for people in the Okanagan area.
At the moment, this pipeline plan is a highly polarizing issue for British Columbians with many supporting the construction of the pipeline and many others in opposition.