A protest being held in support of the Wet’suwet’en in B.C. blocked an intersection near Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue in Toronto Tuesday.
Police say around 50 people were obstructing traffic at Yonge Street and Soudan Avenue, leaving cars at a standstill just after 12 p.m.
The protesters from Climate Justice Toronto, including Indigenous youth, first staged a “sleep in” outside MP Carolyn Bennett’s office in the area on Monday night, in hopes of securing a face-to-face meeting with her the next morning.
An organizer tells CityNews they spoke with her on the phone and informed her they would occupy the office until the RCMP leave Wet’suwet’en territory and until all of the demands of the Wet’suwet’en people are met. She then agreed to meet with them Tuesday morning.
A post on Climate Justice Toronto’s Facebook page says MP Bennett arrived at her offices for the meeting escorted by RCMP.
“[Minister Bennett] deflected and misrepresented issues and she said a lot of words that really meant very little,” says protest organizer Shameem Nasrabadi. “She said at one point ‘consent is not a veto’ … really an example of how flagrant this government is willing to be in its violent colonial enterprise of its invasion of a sovereign, peaceful nation.”
Following what they called a “deeply disturbing and disappointing meeting,” the protesters took to the streets to shut down the intersection.
“If you’re not going to do anything about this, reconciliation is dead,” said Nasrabadi, referring to Bennett. “We came out here, because if reconciliation is dead, then we’re going to shut it down.”
CityNews has reached out to MP Bennett’s office for comment and is awaiting a response.
Protesters supporting the Wet’suwet’en First Nation have been blocking Via Rail tracks near Belleville between Toronto to Ottawa and Montreal since Thursday evening as well. All trains on those two routes have been forced to be cancelled.
Canadian National Railway traffic is also affected by the blockade.
The Wet’suwet’en faced raids on Friday from the RCMP on camps set up to stop a natural gas pipeline in British Columbia.
CN says it has been granted an injunction order to remove protesters from the site near Belleville while Ontario provincial police say they’re continuing to monitor the demonstration.
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have been working to stop construction on the $6-billion natural gas pipeline and their efforts spurred a national protest movement.
The pipeline is part of the massive $40-billion LNG Canada liquefied natural gas export terminal project and runs from Dawson Creek to Kitimat on B.C.’s northwest coast.
About 30 people also waited for six hours in the lobby of the federal justice building in Ottawa Monday until a trio of department officials came down to hear their concerns. The officials said Justice Minister David Lametti was travelling and unavailable, but protesters said they wouldn’t leave until they spoke to someone in a position of authority.
Emma Buchanan, who attended the protest, said the national show of support for the Wet’suwet’en was a sign that people are waking up to the need to support Indigenous people.
“Indigenous issues are Canadian issues and they are for everybody to care about,” she said.