Wet'suwet'en supporters rally across B.C., blocking traffic, trains and Port of Vancouver

People supporting Wet'suwet'en opposition to a natural gas pipeline in northern B.C. blocked access Saturday to the Port of Vancouver, resulting in stalled traffic across the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge. 

A webcam from the port showed a banner across access ramps at Hastings Street and Clark Drive. Traffic cones prevented access from Powell Street and a small group of people could also be seen blocking the Heatley Avenue entrance.

Traffic on the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge was backed up for much of the day and the McGill off-ramp was also closed for several hours, but has since re-opened. 

The port said vehicle access to the port's roads on the south shore of Vancouver Harbour was blocked at Clark, Heatley and Commissioner. 

Organizers of the gathering say it is an "emergency action" to show support for the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs after police made arrests near Houston, B.C., to enforce a B.C. Supreme Court injunction concerning the construction of a natural gas pipeline by Coastal GasLink.

"We're not leaving," said Natalie Knight. "The point of the blockade is to disrupt the money that's coming in and out of the port and send a clear message that business as usual can't keep going on if Indigenous people are under attack."

She said people arrived at the port around 5 a.m. PT Saturday and, as of early afternoon, there were about 100 people at the site.

Solidarity movements

There are several similar actions underway in other cities in B.C. and across Canada.

A main CN railway line is blocked near New Hazelton, west of Smithers. The line has been closed since 3 p.m. Saturday, impacting all rail traffic in and out of Prince Rupert and Kitimat, according to CN Rail. 

"A public statement from the individuals blocking the lines explained that the protest is in solidarity with the pipeline opposition movement and is unrelated to CN's activities," the company said in a statement.  

In Victoria, a ceremonial fire is burning on the front steps of the British Columbia legislature in support of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs.

A spokesperson for the group says the fire is contained within a steel fire pit on the front steps of the building, where dozens of people wrapped in blankets and sleeping bags spent the night outdoors.

Kolin Sutherland-Wilson says the presence of a large pile of chopped firewood and a sleeping area near the legislature's ceremonial entrance indicates people could be planning an extended stay.

Protesters in Ontario have stopped railway traffic east of Toronto.

Meanwhile, the RCMP say several of their vehicles have been damaged by metal spikes at the site where people are opposing the Coastal GasLink pipeline near Smithers. 

Four people were arrested by RCMP on Friday as the hereditary chiefs' supporters continued to access the site and organize blockades.