Indigenous supporters removed their encampment from the legislature steps late Tuesday after delaying but not preventing the start of the new session and delivery of the government’s throne speech.
Demonstrators blocked all entrances to the legislature Tuesday morning, preventing the ceremonial arrival of the lieutenant-governor for the speech from the throne.
Protesters had been camped in front of the legislature’s front gate since noon Thursday in support of hereditary Wet’suwet’en chiefs who oppose a gas pipeline through their traditional territory in northern B.C.
Organizer Saul Brown said the group removed the small settlement after shutting down the ceremonial procession of the lieutenant-governor Tuesday because “we have chosen to not give the satisfaction to the RCMP or [Victoria police] of arresting us and detaining us.”
But he said the movement is not going away. “With a historical day of over 1,000 Wet’suwet’en supporters, we shut down the ceremonial procession for the lieutenant-governor,” he said. “I think we shook the very core of that colonial institution.”
Brown said supporters will continue to “shut down Canada,” targeting major corridors, offices and banks.
“I believe the people of British Columbia and Canada are starting to hold elected officials accountable and starting to stand with Indigenous people, so we don’t have to fight this fight alone,” he said. “When they came for our children and residential schools, we fought that alone.”
Premier John Horgan issued a statement Tuesday saying that he supports the right to protest within the law.
“That said, I understand the frustration of people who have been unable to go to work today, who have been unable to enter government buildings or have been unable to get around in their communities.”
Brown criticized Horgan’s words.
“I believe he’s still hiding behind the rule of law and to do so is a perpetuation of colonization,” he said. “We know rule of law does not always align with morality, because at one time potlatch bans were the rule of law.”