A gathering is set to take place in New Westminster this weekend so locals can show their solidarity for Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs protesting a pipeline through their territory in northern British Columbia.
A group of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs is opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which would move natural gas from northern B.C. to the West Coast. In recent weeks, supporters have launched blockades at locations across Canada, including rail and port facilities.
New Westminster resident Christa MacArthur put out a call on Twitter early Sunday morning to see if anyone wanted to join her in front the New Westminster Law Courts in Begbie Plaza in a show of support for the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.
“I have been struggling with the situation with the Wet’suwet’en and not knowing how to express my support for the Indigenous people, not really feeling that blocking roads or rail corridors is the right position for me,” she said. “Wanting to do something to express support in a public way.”
Having seen the impact that small, unkind actions or words can have on people in person and in social media, MacArthur believes small, positive actions can do the same.
“If mean words can cause so much pain, then surely supportive words have a similar and opposite impact,” she told the Record. “If someone tells you ‘your hair looks so good today,’ that makes your day. It feels invisible, but I don’t think it is.”
While MacArthur was a bit discouraged that more people didn’t join her in front of the law court on Sunday afternoon, she was encouraged when a number of people told her they’d attend a gathering in support of the Wet’suwet’en if they had more notice. A gathering in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en People is taking place on Saturday, Feb. 29 at 1 p.m. at Hyack Square.
“If more people stand up and express support, then although it is not direct action, it helps people feel supported,” MacArthur said. “So that’s all I am really trying to accomplish.”
The Wet’suwet’en People are calling for solidarity actions from Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities who hold sovereignty and recognize the urgency of stopping resource extraction projects that threaten the lives of future generations, said the Unist’ot’en website.
“It feels overwhelmingly complex, but support doesn’t need to be really complex,” MacArthur said. “It’s not saying that we have the solutions – it’s saying, ‘we support you.’”
MacArthur believes the RCMP and senior governments need to remove pressure and respect Indigenous sovereignty. She encourages people to check out the Wet’suwet’en Supporters Toolkit 2020 at www.unistoten.camp.