Protesters erected the blockade late yesterday evening, Feb. 24, and have camped out overnight. Patrick Penner / Abbotsford News.

Protesters erected the blockade late yesterday evening, Feb. 24, and have camped out overnight. Patrick Penner / Abbotsford News.

Wet’suwet’en solidarity protesters block rail lines in Abbotsford

Two dozen set up barricades between Riverside and Vye roads

Over two dozen protesters set up barricades on two rail lines running through Sumas, Matsqui and Abbotsford, as a response to the RCMP arrests on Wet’suwet’en and Tyendinaga territory.

The blockade was set up around 10 p.m. Monday on Vye Road between Riverside Road and Sumas Way. The protesters camped out overnight, bringing supplies and lighting a small campfire to stay warm. The protesters did not shut down traffic along Vye Road.

Protesters, carrying signs reading “Shut Down Canada” and “We stand with the Wet’suwet’en,” represented several different organizations, including Red Braid Extinction Rebellion and the University of Fraser Valley’s Global Development Studies Club.

Darien Johnsen, a UFV student in the Global Development Studies Club, said the barricades were partly a response to the recent RCMP arrests around the country.

“I think [the arrests] just made the situation worse, and it made a lot more people want to get out and let the RCMP and the Canadian government know that their response to the blockade was wrong. They’re just doing the exact same thing they are doing at the Wet’suwet’en camp,” Johnsen said. “The combination of all these arrests of these Indigenous land defenders … heightened the stakes.

“It’s spurred a lot more people to take direct action.”

A mix of around 10 Abbotsford Police officers and CP officers were on site around 8 a.m. Tuesday, observing from across the street. But only a couple police vehicles were on scene. By around 12:30 p.m., the blockade had cleared, according to the Abbotsford Police Department

The group originally set up blockades on a CP Rail line in Maple Ridge along the Haney Bypass, but moved to Abbotsford after they were forced to leave after three hours.

Abbotsford MP Ed Fast said the protesters, while they are allowed to voice opposition to the Coastal GasLink pipeline, were acting illegally by setting up the blockade.

“I believe that one of the most important pillars of a free and democratic society is a commitment to respecting the rule of law,” Fast said. “Although all Canadians have the right to protest peacefully to publicly express their views on important public issues, deliberately defying the law is something I cannot – and will not – defend.

“I encourage the opponents of this project to protest in a safe and responsible manner and in accordance with the law. The residents of Abbotsford expect nothing less.”

But the protesters were taking action over the Canadian government’s incursion into Indigenous territory, Johnsen said. She said the pipeline is a different, although connected, issue.

“The divide between the elected and hereditary chiefs, it’s not an easy decision … But this is really about respecting Indigenous sovereignty,” Johnsen said. “Respecting the fact that the Wet’suwet’en Nation is trying to reclaim their traditional form of government … that’s been stripped from them.

“This isn’t a citizen-versus-citizen issue. This is a human rights issue.”

Johnsen said people criticizing their blockade have misconceptions about the reasons behind the protest.

“People are underestimating how much we know about the situation. A lot of us have been following the Wet’suwet’en crisis for quite awhile now. I think we’re more educated on this than people think we are.”

IndigenousTran Mountain Pipeline

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Abbotsford’s Marissa Rode has signed with the University of Regina Cougars women’s basketball team. (Instagram)
Abbotsford’s Marissa Rode signs with Regina Cougars

Grade 12 Yale Secondary student joining Saskatchewan school’s basketball program

The provincial government has announced almost 400 new childcare spaces for the Fraser Valley, including 143 in Abbotsford. (Thinkstock photo)
Abbotsford to get 143-space new childcare centre at Highstreet

Province announces almost 400 new spaces for the Fraser Valley

A flipped truck in the roundabout on Clearbrook Road at Highway 1 has resulted in a road closure for several hours on Wednesday (March 3). (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Flipped semi in Abbotsford closes portion of Clearbrook Road

Closure starting Wednesday morning is expected to last for several hours

Some Canadians are finding butter harder than usual, resulting in an avalanche of social media controversy around #buttergate. (Brett Williams/The Observer)
#Buttergate: Concerns around hard butter hit Agassiz and beyond

The first in a three part series on dairy farming, palm oil and Canadian consumers

Haven Vivero took first place in the monthly Monologue Slam Canada contest.
Former Abbotsford boy takes top spot in monologue competition

Haven Vivero, now living in Maple Ridge, started acting when he was six

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

BC Human Rights Tribunal. (The Canadian Press)
Human rights tribunal rejects complaint against Surrey brewery

Tribunal dismisses former worker’s claim he was bullied because of his ethnicity

Beginning late Tuesday, anti-pipeline protesters blocked the intersection of Hastings Street and Clark Drive in Vancouver. (Instagram/Braidedwarriors)
Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester

They group is protesting a 90-day jail sentence handed to a fellow anti-pipeline protester

Two Vancouver police officers were struck by a car when the driver learned he was being arrested for allegedly using a fraudulent credit card to pay for food. (Vancouver Police Department)
Driver being arrested for alleged food order fraud rams Vancouver police with car

Two officers are in stable condition, suffering with soft tissue injuries following the incident

A discarded blue surgical mask is shown hanging in a bush in Montreal, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
B.C. RMT suspended for not wearing a mask after confirmed by undercover clients

College of Massage Therapists has 5 open files, said suspension necessary to protect public

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read