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The blockades continue throughout Canada with protestors carrying signs that say things like “Stand with Wet’suwet’en” and “Wet’suwet’en Strong”.
Most of them are showing their support for the hereditary chiefs who disagree with the construction of the $6.6 billion Coastal GasLink pipeline through their land in northern BC, according to CBC News.
It is now known that many Wet’suwet’en people support the pipeline and are angered by the ongoing protests. Some people see the natural gas pipeline as a chance to build their community with the new jobs it will bring.
Though there is still some division in the community, the 20 elected First Nations councils have signed agreements and shown their support for the project.
The national protests began when some of the hereditary chiefs showed their opposition to the project and claimed that it violated their rights.
On Wednesday, the community of Houston held an event at a movie theatre and brought out about 200 people from their community of 2,000, for three hours. Houston is located right on the path of the pipeline. The pro-pipeline event had Wet’suwet’en Nation members explaining why they support the project.
During the meeting people mentioned that they wanted to see the economic opportunities that could be created by the construction.
One of the supporters, Robert Skin, was an elected member of the Skin Tyee First Nation council which is also a part of the Wet’suwet’en Nation. He noted that the pipeline will give the next generation a better life.
“With the benefit agreement that [the Skin Tyee] did sign, I see us being in a better place even within the next five years,” he said.
When he was talking at the theatre, he noted that the protestors only have “one side of the story” and are not looking at the positive things that the project could bring.
As the lumber industry has been struggling in the region many people at the event explained that they wanted more of the community to have job opportunities so that they could provide for their families.
The Wet’suwet’en people also said that the protests have made conflict in the community worse than before. Some also noted that they did not want to see a separation between the First Nation and Canada.
Another part of the Wet’suwet’en Nation called the Witset First Nation is very divided on the issue according to Edward Tom, who told CBC that he thought the protestors are “very pugnacious and overbearing,” and added, “They’re professional protestors.”
A lot of people in attendance said that protestors seem to be unaware that many Wet’suwet’en people want the pipeline to be built. The people who have backed the pipeline said that they have received threats and intimidation from other members of the community.
The event marked Marion Tiljoe Shepard’s first time voicing her support for the project. She has a trucking company in the area and feels that the project will help her business along with others in the area. Shepard said that the protestors do not represent her or her community.
“It’s none of their business,” she said. “All of these protesters don’t have the right to close down railways and ships. It’s not right. Go away. I want them to leave.”