Protesters fired up at legislature amid round of stormy weather

A rough patch of weather Friday, complete with persistent rain and wind, didn’t spark any thoughts of leaving the steps of the legislature for Indigenous young people who have been there all week.

Ta’Kaiya Blaney said they will stay for some time.

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“These are the conditions that our ancestors have lived in for thousands of years, and they’re not going to deter us from doing what we have to do to keep our relatives up north safe.”

She said it is important to stay involved.

“It’s about creating sustained and centralized pressure on the provincial and federal government — especially with where we’re located in Victoria on Lekwungen territories and how this is the colonial epicentre of governance,” Blaney said.

Participants in the action at the legislature, like many others across the country, are there in recognition of five Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose a natural-gas pipeline being built by Coastal GasLink in their territory in northern B.C..

The issue has created a national conversation about Indigenous relations, Blaney said.

Hereditary chiefs, B.C. Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser and federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett met this week in Smithers, and Blaney said the Victoria group wants to maintain a “sustained presence” while that process is underway.

She said the emphasis for the group on Friday was on spending community time.

“Our work doesn’t always look like rallies, it also looks like gathering — singing and drumming.”

The public has been offering help along the way, she said.

“We’ve had community members bring in bannock, we’ve had many different groups drop by and offer support,” Blaney said. “We’re really appreciative of the overwhelming support that’s been received.”

Two large tents have been in place on the walkway in front of the stairs, one for food and one for general shelter.

Victoria police continue to have a presence.

Two people were arrested for mischief by the Legislative Assembly Protective Services on Thursday for using chalk-paint spray to write on the building and pavement. Shay Lynn Sampson said after the arrests that it was thought that painting messages wouldn’t be an issue because the substance used washes off.

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