Kat McCooeye had one person in mind as she stood in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en pipeline protesters over 1,000 kilometres away.
“I’m here because I’m a human being and I have a daughter and I want her to have eagles and grizzlies and bears and salmon,” said McCooeye. “I’m here for all life.”
McCooeye joined a Nelson rally Tuesday afternoon in support of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation’s Gidimt’en clan. Its members set up a blockade on a forest service road southwest of Houston, B.C., to stop construction of the 670-kilometre Coastal GasLink pipeline.
The $6.2-billion project will carry natural gas from Dawson Creek to a proposed facility in Kitimat.
The blockade was torn down Monday by the RCMP and 14 people were arrested. A camp set up by the Wet’suwet’en’s Unist’ot’en clan, which had an injunction granted against it by the B.C. Supreme Court in December, remains in place.
Although the Wet’suwet’en’s band council agreed to a $13-million deal in support of the pipeline, its hereditary chiefs have unanimously denounced that agreement.
McCooeye, who grew up in the Gitxsan territory that neighbours Wet’suwet’en land, said the fight against the pipeline is an environmental issue bigger than one blockade.
“Those women, those children, those families and elders and hereditary chiefs up there are fighting for the land, for the water, for the animals, but not just for the Wet’suwet’en. They are fighting for all people, all life.”
Rallies like the one in Nelson were held throughout Canada and the United States Tuesday. Protesters gathered at noon outside the office of Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall, who also serves as the provincial government’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.
Shannon Leigh and Vanessa Bate stood wrapped around each other to ward off a cold wind during the rally.
Leigh said she saw a correlation between the pipeline and the logging of local watersheds.
“We’re being overtaken by the corporate machine, as well. Our politicians do nothing; they speak for nobody. They are full of empty promises and words that never speak or ring true to our hearts,” she said.
“It’s all this big corporate game. If the people don’t start standing up and taking responsibility for this act of war that’s going on right now, then we can just expect they are going to do the same to us, which they are.”
Tom Nixon said he showed up to Tuesday’s rally to support friends who live in the region where the pipeline is to be constructed.
“We don’t need this pipeline. This pipeline is to bring fracked natural gas to Kitimat so they can liquefy it and try to sell it to the Chinese. The Chinese [have] got plenty of natural gas of their own, they don’t need ours.”