About a hundred SFU students filled a portion of the university’s Convocation Mall and blocked traffic at an intersection along Gaglardi Way in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.
The demonstration was billed as a school walkout – one of 36 at universities and high schools across Canada, according to Baby Lee-Young, one of the organizers of the SFU demonstration.
“We are part of a nationwide organization just independently to stand in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en. That is to say that with the chiefs and their people in particular, and how their demands are not being met,” said Lee-Young, who identifies with they/them pronouns.
They said the demonstrations are calling on the RCMP to withdraw from the Wet’suwet’en territory and for permits to be revoked for the CGL pipeline.
Some of the demonstrations were intended to call out specific schools for their investments in fossil fuels companies, including TC Energy, the owner of the CGL pipeline. Lee-Young said they were not immediately aware whether SFU had investments in the pipeline.
The event included talks from a number of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, including Kayah George of the Tulalip and Tsleil-Waututh nations.
George spoke to the Tsleil-Waututh’s experience fighting the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, saying that community’s efforts have worked up to now.
I’m at a solidarity protest at @SFU’s Convocation Mall. Probably a few hundred people here calling on RCMP to leave #Wetsuweten territory and for the revocation off CGL permits. pic.twitter.com/WcjA9DUzkM— dustin godfrey (@dustinrgodfrey) March 4, 2020
“We say no. And since the time we started fighting that pipeline, in all the years we’ve been opposing it, not a single pipeline has been built in our Indigenous territory,” George said to applause from the crowd. “As long as we keep fighting … none ever will.”
The crowd also heard from Saskia of the Heiltsuk Nation; Edgard, who has Tahitian, Kaska and Nahua lineage; Giovanni Hosang, a Jamaican settler; and and Terrence Bird, who is Cree.
Hosang and Lee-Young also led the crowd in chants and singing, while George, Bird and Isaiah Rose, of Squamish and Nisga’a nations, led the crowd in drumming and singing.
The demonstration ended by marching to Gaglardi Way, where they intended to block an intersection for about half an hour. Lee-Young said the blockade wasn’t intended to shut down traffic as much as to send a message of solidarity.
“For being on top of a mountain, I’m so, so happy to see (the turnout),” they said. “We were pretty full, and just to see all the other students in solidarity – it’s amazing, really beautiful and just gives everyone a lot of courage, I think.”