By John Swartz
A group of protesters took over the intersection of West and Mississaga Streets at approximately 2 p.m. Saturday. They were showing support for the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en band and the opposition to the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
“There are too many politicians and people in positions of power speaking without thinking first, without consulting first,” said Brandon Rhéal Amyot addressing crowd with the aid of a megaphone.
“Let’s make it very clear what it is we want. Yesterday they had a press conference with the Mohawk , That was a Nation to Nation relationship you saw happening there, Nations coming together to discuss the task forward. What they said was the RCMP must fully remove themselves from sovereign territory. Not partially, no in and out, fully remove themselves. Second, Coastal GasLink pipeline must fully remove themselves, their employees, their trucks, everything that is involved. They must remove themselves. And finally, that Nation to Nation relationship must begin and it must begin in earnest.”
Orillia OPP closed the main streets to traffic and the protesters lit a ceremonial fire in the middle of the intersection. They then paraded up Mississaga to Andrew and around the block back to the Opera House.
“We knew that something was going to happen and we’re just providing an opportunity for them to exercise their lawful rights,” said Orillia OPP Const. Martin Hill.
“The OPP was given a heads up. There was no permit for this. As is guaranteed under the Chart of Rights, we have the right to peaceful assembly and that is exactly what we are doing today,” Amyot told SUNonline/Orillia.
“Today we are here to show solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en in what we call British Columbia. The hereditary chiefs there have called on solidarity actions across the globe to show the federal government and the B.C. provincial government that there is a force for their cause and their cause is to protect their sovereignty, to protect the earth and to protect the water. So that is what we are doing here today, is showing that solidarity,” he said.
Recently there have been protests in Barrie and Brechin. Other communities had protests Saturday as well.
“In Toronto there’s thousands of people marching on Queen’s Park sending the same message we are and that message is the one the hereditary chiefs have been asking us to project,” Amyot said.
The protest was to conclude at 5 p.m.
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia) Main: Protesters in downtown Orillia Saturday showing support for the Wet’suwet’en .