High school and university students across Canada walked out of classes on Wednesday in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs. Students and allies met up at the legislature around noon, where the group Indigenous Youth for Wet’suwet’en have been occupying the space for 10 days.
With hundreds of onlookers, the group of Indigenous young people erected a ceremonial space in the middle of the legislature lawn. It consisted of red cloths, tarps and planks of wood marking the outer circle. Inside the space, and after saying a prayer, a single red dress was hung where the youth vow it will stay until politicians meet with them.
Ta’Kaiya Blaney told the crowd they would give B.C. ministers 24 hours to meet with those occupying the legislature.
“This ceremonial space is open to you Canadian officials that are in these buildings that so far have remained complacent in the ongoing genocide,” she said.“Because it is so impossible to fly up north and meet with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, how about walking outside of your building.”
According to a press release from Indigenous Youth for Wet’suwet’en, the driving force behind Victoria’s movement, the students are walking out to demand that the RCMP and Coastal GasLink “fully withdraw from sovereign Wet’suwet’en territory immediately.”
The press release goes on to state that “the basic demands of the hereditary chiefs have not been met” as the RCMP still patrol the territory, and Coastal GasLink has resumed construction.
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and senior federal and B.C. cabinet ministers reached a proposed agreement over the weekend, but details are not being released until the Wet’suwet’en people are consulted through their traditional feast process, which could take up to two weeks.
More to come.
— With files from the Canadian Press