THUNDER BAY – About 80 people marched through the streets of Thunder Bay’s north core early Tuesday evening. It’s the city’s first major action in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose the construction of a natural gas pipeline through their traditional territory in northwestern British Columbia.
Police blocked off parts of Red River Road, Cumberland and Water streets as the group circled the downtown area. Protesters at times passed outside areas police had blocked off, momentarily snarling traffic. Those who had helped plan the action said the inconvenience is part of the point.
“We don’t want to make it too easy for people,” said Ma-Nee Chacaby, marching near the front of the group. “Protest is all about fighting for your right to be seen.”
Chacaby said she wanted those on the front lines in B.C. to see that they’re not alone.
“We’re here to support the people in the West, we want to show that we’re all for them,” she said. “I would be over there with them now if I had my way.”
Tanaya Rolling Cloud, who Chacaby credited with organizing the action, said the blockades in Wet’suwet’en are striking a chord with Indigenous people in Thunder Bay. She hopes this can be a moment for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to come together.
“In Thunder Bay it’s known when people come here that it’s racist against Indigenous people, that we’re discriminated against, we’re hated even,” she said. “We want to show that we’re loving people, that we believe in relationships with one another. We want to create allies so we can support one another.”
She says people should expect more such protests as long as the situation in Wet’suwet’en remains unresolved – adding there are more planned this week. Similar protests have spread across the country in recent weeks, closing streets, bridges, rail lines, and border crossings.