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Small group gathers in Corner Brook to support B.C.’s Wet’suwet’en land defenders

April Legge looks on as her partner Graham Downey-Sutton reads from a prepared speech during a demonstration in support of British Columbia’s Wet’suwet’en First Nation outside Corner Brook City Hall on Friday. Diane Crocker/The Western Star
April Legge looks on as her partner Graham Downey-Sutton reads from a prepared speech during a demonstration in support of British Columbia’s Wet’suwet’en First Nation outside Corner Brook City Hall on Friday. Diane Crocker/The Western Star
CORNER BROOK, N.L. —

With a temperature of -15 C and a wind chill of -26 C, a small group of six people braved the elements to stand in solidarity with British Columbia’s Wet’suwet’en First Nation in Corner Brook at lunchtime Friday.

The hereditary Wet’suwet’en chiefs are opposing the Coastal GasLink that is to be built across their land in northern British Columbia.

The demonstration was organized by Graham Downey-Sutton and April Legge. The Corner Brook couple are students in the University of Victoria’s social work program through distance education.

Downey-Sutton said they’ve been following the situation with the Wet’suwet’en people and were called to action by their professors to attend rallies or protests as a show of support.

They’ve seen events taking part across the country, including in St. John’s. They felt, with Corner Brook being the hub of western Newfoundland with a university population and strong First Nation’s population through the Qalipu First Nation, that something should happen here.

“There is a need for awareness here,” he said.

Downey-Sutton said he’s concerned with the way in which the issue is being handled and that there are a variety of levels of law at play — civil, criminal, and First Nations.

He said 20 elected band chiefs have approved the pipeline, but the hereditary chiefs are standing against it.

The call is out there for the federal government, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and the B.C. provincial government to meet with the people to address the issue and their concerns.

For him, the demonstration was about supporting an Indigenous group.

“If this was happening in our backyard, would we not be standing up for it here as well. We need to be in solidarity as aboriginal people and as non-aboriginal persons with these people and their rights.”

The event in Corner Brook was peaceful. In other areas, there have been railway blockades which have created inconveniences for people and businesses.

“Inconveniences are required in order to get attention,” said Downey-Sutton. “As more people understand hopefully actions towards reconciliation can be taken.”

Twitter: WS_DianeCrocker

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