Indigenous Youth for Wet’suwet’en occupy federal minister’s office in Winnipeg

Wet'suwet'en
The scene inside Dan Vandal’s constituency office in Winnipeg. Photo: Darrell Stranger/APTN

Roughly 20 young people are occupying the office of Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal in Winnipeg demanding that authorities leave Wet’suwet’en territory.

Vandal is Métis and the MP for the riding of Saint Boniface-Saint Vital in the city’s east end.

Kakeka Thundersky spoke for the group and why she felt it was important the organization got together.

“What’s happening out there is just a complete violation of rights of Indigenous people and it affects all of us, the land and the water they’re all connected, we’re all related. Here on Turtle Island and we really just need to protect it for the next generation. We believe it is all of our responsibility to take care of all of the children all the time.”

The group, Indigenous Youth for Wet’suwet’en Winnipeg, is demanding the immediate removal of the RCMP and the Coastal Gaslink (CGL) from Wet’suwet’en territory.

The CGL pipeline will carry fracked natural gas from Dawson Creek in northeastern British Columbia 670 km to Kitimat on the coast where it will be processed and shipped to markets in Asia.

It has been approved by elected chiefs and councils but the hereditary chiefs, who have control over the Wet’suwet’en territory, have vowed to stop the company from building on their land and are currently facing a potential incursion by the RCMP.

A list of demands to Vandal and the Liberal Cabinet includes the minister making a public commitment to do everything in his power to ensure the demands of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs are met.

One of the demands is also for Bill Blair, minister Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, to command the RCMP to stand down and withdraw from Wet’suwet’en territory, Smithers and Houston areas.

The occupation has been discussed with Wet’suwet’en land defenders and other support groups across the country.

The Indigenous Youth for Wet’suwet’en Winnipeg say they won’t leave the office until their demands are met.

APTN News reached out to Vandal for comment.

“The right to peaceful protest is a fundamental right of all Canadians,” said a statement from Vandal’s office after this story was posted.

“I am committed to meeting with them to hear their concerns in person.”

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Darrell is a proud member of Peguis First Nation in Manitoba. He is a graduate of the television program from Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton. He is returning to APTN after having completed an internship with us in 2018 and a brief stop as a reporter in B.C. in 2019.