Kanesatake members show solidarity with indigenous communities in northern B.C. by blocking Route 344
Published Sunday, January 13, 2019 5:37PM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 14, 2019 8:02AM EST
As rallies around the world have taken place this week in support of indigenous protestors in northern B.C., members of the Kanesatake community showed solidarity on Sunday, blocking Route 344 for several hours.
“Today we’re redirecting traffic not to go through the community because we’re expressing our sovereignty rights,” said Alan Harrington of the Ojibwe Nation.
On Jan. 7, 14 people were arrested at the blockade site southwest of Houston, B.C., where members of the Gidimt'en clan of Wet'suwet'en First Nation are trying to stop construction of Coastal GasLink’s pipeline from going ahead.
The people of Kanesatake know firsthand what the Wet'suwet'en community is going through, and the location of Sunday’s rally carried heavy meaning.
Route 344 was at the heart of the 1990 Oka Crisis.
“We want to demand that the 14 people who were arrested are released and don’t have to go to trial,” said Ellen Gabriel, a Mohawk activist.
In Quebec, there’s a growing concern that another similar crisis is unfolding on the other side of the country.
“During [the Oka Crisis], all the nations from all over the world came here to support us,” said Nicole Gagne, a Kanehsatake resident. “The support was so much appreciated. Anything we can do, if we can’t send guys over there physically, we’re going to be there spiritually and with them in our thoughts.”
Beyond the arrests, the RCMP issued a court injunction which First Nations leaders say they will abide by.
Participants in Kanesatake hope that a settlement is reached peacefully.
“I think it's important to stress that in a process or an era of reconciliation that this is not an example,” said Gabriel. “If Mr. Trudeau’s most important relationship is with indigenous peoples, then this is not how you do it. It’s really about developing a relationship through discussions.”