It was “peaceful, respectful demonstration” in support of the Wet’suwet’en resistance to Coastal Gas Link’s LNG pipeline, in Campbell River on Sunday, Feb 15, 2020. Hereditary Chief George Quocksister, Jr. of the Laichkwiltach Nation, led about 40 people, with banners and signs, from Discovery Harbour Mall along the shoreline beside the Island Highway in Campbell River to Ostler Park
Hereditary chief George Quocksister, Jr
“This is the first Campbell River Wet’suwet’en support protest organized by a local hereditary chief,” said Rich Hagensen, from the Campbell River chapter of the Council of Canadians.
“The Wet’suwet’en had their rights recognized by the court in 1997 and here they are getting stomped on all over again. That’s horrible what’s going on there. How would Trudeau and Horgan like them to put a pipeline through their backyard?” asked Hereditary Chief Quocksister.
Asked if this was the first march he organized, Chief Quocksister replied, “I’ve been doing marches for years. We had a huge march against the fish farms in 2003.”
Last year, Hereditary Chief George Quocksister Jr, and his family led the R/V Martin Sheen (with MP Paul Manly and actress Pamela Anderson) to the fish farms in Okisollo Channel. He previously worked alongside both David Suzuki and Green Party leader Elizabeth May.
Chief Quocksister said that if the elected chiefs and councils of the Campbell River and Cape Mudge bands spoke out against fish farms, there wouldn’t be any left in in our area. He needs their support to launch a joint lawsuit to remove them.
(Our conversation was mostly about fish farms.)
The Reason Why
Speakers from Sierra Quadra and the Council of Canadians joined Chief Quocksister to speak out against the recent RCMP arrests of the Wet’suwet’en First Nations people opposing the Coastal Gas Link LNG pipeline being built on their territory.
“Like the other local protests, this protest happened to keep highlighting the unresolved issue of lack of permission by the Wet’suwet’en Nation giving both levels of government in Canada and by the elected First Nations on the Wet’suwet’en reserves the go ahead for the LNG pipeline to be built on the Wet’suwet’en territory,” said Hagensen.
“The Wet’suwet’en Nation, like many other First Nations in Canada, claim that due to historical traditions and due to some Canadian court decisions, the hereditary chiefs of their nation speak for all activities occurring within the unceded territory within their Nation and that the elected band councils only have jurisdiction on the reserves.”
“The protests also are occurring due to the lack of attention paid in the past and present to true consultation and negotiation with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs by the aforementioned levels of government while at the same time allowing the RCMP to forcefully trespass on their lands and arrest Wet’suwet’en people trying to protect their land against environmental degradation now and for future generations.
“It seems that protests like this one and blockades and other direct actions such as are occurring elsewhere in Canada are the only way that various levels of government will pay attention to the long standing environmental and land claims/territorial concerns of the Wet’suwet’en and others. These actions also have helped to make the general public more aware of these issues and hopefully will make them more supportive of the Wet’suwet’en and other First Nations, demand that the federal and provincial governments double down on their efforts to right the wrongs of the past and present – while at the same time taking a step back to reexamine their current policies of continuing to approve and finance major fossil fuel resource extraction and export companies to continue business as usual while ignoring their devastating effect on the environment and not looking at alternatives like supporting more sustainable energy projects.”
Hagensen added, “One thing I spoke about at Sunday’s protest was the dismay that I and others have felt in also seeing some of the hateful and racist comments that some people have made against First Nations people especially on social media in response to the Wet’suwet’en support rallies and blockades.”
“If there was a train track here, I’d blockade it,” said Hereditary chief George Quocksister, Jr.
After about an hour, the protesters walked back along the Island Highway to Discovery Harbour. A number of passing cars honked in support.