Hundreds of students walk out of classes in Metro Vancouver in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs

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      The federal and provincial governments, LNG Canada, and Coastal GasLink Pipeline Ltd. all thought that a $40-billion fossil-fuel project would proceed in B.C. after proponents signed deals with 20 elected First Nations chiefs and councils.

      But they may have underestimated the degree of public goodwill for Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs who are resisting a natural-gas pipeline that will provide fuel for the LNG plant near Kitimat.

      Today, more than 600 Metro Vancouver secondary and university students walked out of classes to register their opposition to the pipeline.

      They held a rally outside Vancouver City Hall to demand that the province suspend all permits. Then they marched to the constituency office of Environment and Climate Change Strategy Minister George Heyman.

      The protesters also want the province to respect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples' call for "free, prior and informed consent" to projects affecting Indigenous peoples or their territories.

      “We are standing in solidarity with the Wet’suwe’ten nation and demanding that the B.C. government meet the demands of the hereditary chiefs” hip-hop artist Dakota Bear said in a news release. 

      His Twitter feed declares that "Indigenous sovereignty is climate action."

      The Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs say that the elected chiefs and councils only have jurisdiction over reserves created under the Indian Act—and not over traditional unceded Indigenous territories.

      The rally was organized by the climate-action group Sustainabiliteens. In addition to Bear, other speakers at the event included Coun. Jean Swanson, Ida Manuel, Sii-am Hamilton, Jo Walden, Jaye Simpson, and Patricia Kelly.

      The demonstration came on the same day that Premier John Horgan appointed former NDP MP Nathan Cullen to act as a liaison between the province and Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs.

      Cullen, who represented Skeena–Bulkley Valley, will conduct fact-finding and facilitation with the goal of supporting a peaceful resolution to the dispute with Coastal GasLink.

      Earlier this month, Horgan refused to meet with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs during a visit to northern B.C.