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 man wins $1 million in Lotto 6/49 draw

Kenneth Giffen wins prize after deciding to stop in Agassiz gas station after fishing trip

UPDATE: Abbotsford shooting victim was alleged ‘crime boss,’ according to court documents

Jazzy Sran, 43, was believed to have been smuggling cocaine across the border

VIDEO: Former Abbotsford resident giving away $1,000

Langley native Alex Johnson creates elaborate treasure hunt to give away cash

Missing Richmond man last seen in Chilliwack

Shawn Johnson last seen on June 30 on Main Street

Double homicide investigation leads Vancouver police to Eagle Landing

A VPD forensics unit was in Chilliwack Saturday collecting evidence connected to East Van murders

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

COVID-19 exposure on Vancouver flight

The Air Canada 8421 flight travelled from Kelowna to Vancouver on July 6

Double homicide investigation leads Vancouver police to Chilliwack

A VPD forensics unit was in Chilliwack Saturday collecting evidence connected to East Van murders

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Most Read