Protesters erected the blockade late yesterday evening, Feb. 24, and have camped out overnight. Photo taken from @stopdisplacemnt Twitter handle.

Wet’suwet’en solidarity protesters block rail lines in Abbotsford

Two dozen set up barricades between Riverside and Vye Roads

Over two dozen protesters set up barricades on two rail lines running through Sumas, Matsqui and Abbotsford on the evening of Feb. 24, as a response to the RCMP arrests on Wet’suwet’en and Tyendinaga territory.

The blockade was set up around 10 p.m. on Vye Road between Riverside Road and Sumas Way. The protesters camped out overnight, bringing supplies and lighting a small campfire to stay warm. The protesters have not shut down traffic along Vye Road.

Protesters, carrying signs reading “Shut Down Canada” and “We stand with the Wet’suwet’en,” represent several different organizations, including Red Braid Extinction Rebellion and the University of Fraser Valley’s Global Development Studies Club.

Darien Johnsen, a UFV student in the Global Development Studies Club, said the barricades are partly a response to the recent RCMP arrests.

“I think [the arrests] just made the situation worse, and it made a lot more people want to get out and let the RCMP and the Canadian government know that their response to the blockade was wrong. They’re just doing the exact same thing they are doing at the Wet’suwet’en camp,” Johnsen said. “The combination of all these arrests of these Indigenous land defenders… heightened the stakes.

“It’s spurred a lot more people to take direct action.”

RELATED: PHOTOS: Wet’suwet’en supporters gather in Abbotsford

A mix of around 10 Abbotsford police officers and CP officers were on site around 8 a.m. this morning, observing from across the street. But presently, only a couple police vehicles are on scene.

Police will continue to monitor the event, and provide updates on any developments, according to Sgt. Judy Bird, media officer for the department.

The group originally set up blockades on a CP Rail line in Maple Ridge along the Haney Bypass, but moved to Abbotsford after they were forced to leave after three hours.

Abbotsford MP, Ed Fast, said the protesters, while they are allowed to voice opposition to the Coastal Gaslink pipeline, are acting illegally by setting up the blockade.

“I believe that one of the most important pillars of a free and democratic society is a commitment to respecting the rule of law,” said Fast. “Although all Canadians have the right to protest peacefully to publicly express their views on important public issues, deliberately defying the law is something I cannot and will not defend.

“I encourage the opponents of this project to protest in a safe and responsible manner and in accordance with the law. The residents of Abbotsford expect nothing less.”

But the protesters are taking action over the Canadian government’s incursion into Indigenous territory, according to Johnsen. She said the pipeline is a different, although connected, issue.

“The divide between the elected and hereditary chiefs, it’s not an easy decision… But this is really about respecting Indigenous sovereignty,” Johnsen said. “Respecting the fact that the Wet’suwet’en Nation is trying to reclaim their traditional form of government… that’s been stripped from them.

“This isn’t a citizen versus citizen issue. This is a human rights issue.”

Johnsen said people criticizing their blockade have misconceptions about the reasons behind the protest.

“People are underestimating how much we know about the situation. A lot of us have been following the Wet’suwet’en crisis for quite awhile now. I think we’re more educated on this than people think we are.”

The News has reached out to CN Rail and SRY Rail for comment.

IndigenousTran Mountain Pipeline

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cloverdale automobile shop offers to pick up, service, and drop off vehicles

Surrey’s Visscher-Pau Automotive starts ‘Blue Glove’ valet service, will cover Cloverdale, Langley, Newton, Fleetwood, and Hazelmere

Surrey RCMP looking for ‘distraction theft’ suspect

Suspect allegedly tried to swipe a man’s necklace while giving him a hug

1,000 food hampers packed for delivery to students of Surrey’s inner-city schools

City Dream Centre-led initiative involved volunteer effort at Horizon Church in Newton

White Rock Whalers’ Rogers named PJHL coach of the year

Jason Rogers led second-year junior ‘B’ hockey team to playoffs

As 240K apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start: Tam

Health officials had previously not recommended wearing them

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. child psychologist says your parenting approach can’t be one-size fits all in social isolation

B.C. begins taking submissions for $2M COVID-19 research fund

Rural health, impact of shifting hospital resources among priorities

Easter Bunny not a COVID-19 carrier, allowed to do drop offs

World Health Organization grants permission to Bunny as he cannot transfer the virus

COVID-19 world update: 1,000 cases hit U.S. military; Good news in Spain, Portugal

Comprehensive collection of coronavirus news from around the world

Most Read