Anushka Azadi displays a handmade sign by train tracks near Chase where Shuswap First Nations leaders set up a blockade Chase on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. (Cameron Thomson - Salmon Arm Observer)

Shuswap blockade temporarily lifted following negotiation with CP Rail

Onus placed on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to respond

A rail blockade in Chase has been lifted for four days, conditional on the prime minister’s direct involvement in discussions with Wet’suwet’en hereditary leaders.

Protesters involved in the blockade, set up directly across from the Neskonlith Hall in Chase on Thursday, Feb. 20, said CP Rail police brought a cell phone for them to speak directly with CP’s executive director. Negotiations ended later that evening and the blockade was cleared from the tracks at midnight.

Protesters said if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau does not begin a dialogue with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary leaders they will be back on the tracks in four days.

Read more: Trudeau promises update on blockades as Wet’suwet’en chiefs meet Mohawk supporters

Read more: UPDATE: Protesters say they will maintain blockade near Chase “as long as it takes”

Following the negotiations, CP’s president and CEO Keith Creel released a letter, calling for the prime minister’s immediate response to the blockades. Creel went on to say the Chase blockade severed rail access connecting the Port of Vancouver with the North American supply chain and the Canadian economy.

“I support the offer made today by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to move their officers away from the area where the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs have been opposing a pipeline on their traditional territory,” wrote Creel.

Protests at the Unist’ot’en Camp in Wet’suwet’en territory are focused on the proposed 670 kilometre pipeline that is expected to move natural gas from Dawson Creek to the newly-approved LNG Canada export facility near Kitimat.

Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with 20 elected First Nations along the pipeline’s route, but Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say the company has no authority without their consent.

Anushka Azadi, a protester at the Chase blockade on Thursday, is eager to see conversations move ahead but believes the issue to be far from over.

“We’re very happy with this response but only for the moment are we happy,” said Azadi. “This is a very, very long conversation that Canada is supposed to have had with their Indigenous populations for years.

“This is a conversation that is overdue.”

Read more: Meet the Wet’suwet’en who want the Coastal GasLink pipeline

Read more: B.C., federal ministers plead for meeting Wet’suwet’en dissidents

Azadi, who was in contact with Wet’suwet’en and Mohawk nation leaders for much of Thursday, said the protest goals are clear: RCMP and CGl withdraw from their territory and continue nation to nation dialogue.

Azadi highlighted there are larger issues at play than the proposed pipeline.

“This is not just about Wet’suwet’en, it’s not just about the railroad tracks, it’s not just one thing, this is a very old conversation that Canada hasn’t had with its Indigenous nations,” she said.

In Ottawa also on Thursday, North Okanagan Shuswap MP Mel Arnold addressed the house speaking about the blockade.

“[The trains] carry all sorts of goods that keep this economy going, such as the grain trains. Saskatchewan will not be able to get its products to market. How can this continue to go on?” Arnold said.

Justin Trudeau has promised a full account of his government’s work to clear the blockades in a press conference this afternoon.


@CameronJHT
Cameron.thomson@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

RCMP

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

Just Posted

Development plans in Salmon Arm move forward despite pandemic

March building stats up over last year, city’s planning meeting includes seven applications

Okanagan College student in Salmon Arm designs map tracking spread of COVID-19 in B.C.

Sean Heddle says fighting complacency and misinformation is important

Q&A: Interior Health CEO answers questions on COVID-19 response

Susan Brown, president and CEO of Interior Health, answers questions regarding COVID-19

“I call her my adopted daughter”: Salmon Arm couple embrace student exchange experience

Rotary Youth Exchange students choose to shelter in place during COVID-19 pandemic

Salmon Arm firefighters sound sirens in support of hospital staff

Fire chief hopes to have more emergency responders involved in upcoming parade

B.C. couple celebrates 61st anniversary through seniors’ home window

Frank and Rena Phillips marked occasion at Nanaimo Seniors Village this week while social distancing

COVID-19: South Okanagan community salutes frontline medical staff

“Honk for the unsung heros. Thanks to each and every one of you”

A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

Groups across B.C. are working together to create what they hope will help people affected by the pandemic

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

Interior Health confirms five additional cases in West Kelowna COVID-19 outbreak

The total amount of confirmed cases at Bylands Nurseries Ltd. is 19; no further cases expected

Summerland’s April 1 snow measurements above normal

Measurements taken at Summerland Reservoir and Isintok Lake

Okanagan Skaha School Board does not anticipate closures

School district budget tight as a result of declining enrolment

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

Most Read