‘[Today’s demonstration] is saying that people are still against what the government has been doing’
About 60 students attended a national walkout event today outside the Ryerson Student Campus Centre concerning the Wet’suwet’en land dispute.
President of Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson (CESAR), Nicole Brayiannis, told the Ryersonian the demonstration was a show of solidarity for Canada’s Indigenous communities in light of the recent Wet’suwet’en dispute in B.C. The event is part of a national series of student walkouts taking place at Canadian universities.
“[Today’s demonstration] is saying that people are still against what the government has been doing,” Brayiannis said.
The land dispute centres on a proposed $6.6-billion Coastal GasLink pipeline project that would transport natural gas across northern B.C. from the Dawson Creek area to a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plant near Kitimat, areas considered to be in traditional Wet’suwet’en territory.
The dispute has been intensifying since late 2019, following the B.C. Supreme Court granting CGL an expanded injunction against the members of Wet’suwet’en nation blocking access to the project. The RCMP then moved into Wet’suwet’en territory to enforce the injunction.
This week, the parties reached a tentative agreement, which Brayiannis said is a great first step. However, she noted, the agreement is not retroactive, so there are still concerns that the government will continue to pursue the pipeline.
“Our academic institutions are complicit in this violent violation of Wet’suwet’en sovereignty,” CESAR wrote on the event’s Facebook page. “Many institutions have declined to make a statement, and maintain foundation and pension investments in TC Energy and the Coastal GasLink pipeline.”
Brayiannis noted that the walkout is also aimed to draw attention to other injustices faced by Canada’s Indigenous peoples, including access to clean water and the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
“There can be no conversations about pipelines, there can be no conversations about anything until those basic human rights are being met,” Brayiannis added.