A rail blockade on train tracks east of Kamloops, near the Neskonlith band office, has been set up by a group of protesters standing in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs’ opposition to the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northwest B.C.
Photos from the scene show protesters with signs standing on the tracks and an RCMP presence.
A Facebook post from Anushka Azadi reads “Sacred Fire CALL OUT: We are standing on the tracks across the highway from Neskonlith Hall. Come one come ALL!”
There were about seven protesters at the scene. They parked a silver van across the tracks and lit a sacred fire representing First Nations unity in the province.
The action is the latest in a series of nationwide protests that have blocked rail lines, roads, bridges, ports and the doors to the B.C. legislature. Protests began after the RCMP began enforcing a court injunction against protesters blocking access to Coastal GasLink’s work site on Wet’suwet’en land.
One protester, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Salmon Arm Observer at the scene they share people's frustrations with the protests and would rather not be engaged in such action.
"We don;t want to be out here stopping traffic to get conversations going but we've been pressed to this extent that this is what we have to do," the protester said.
The protesters plan to continue obstructing the tracks for as long as it takes for the RCMP to be removed from Wet’suwet’en territory.
The B.C. RCMP, however, have said they are moving officers away from their position on Wet’suwet’en territory to the nearby town of Houston, and, on Thursday, federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair told reporters he is hopeful that move will satisfy the concerns that were raised and believes the time has come for the barricades to come down.
Neskonlith Indian Band Chief Judy Wilson was reached by KTW and, while declining to comment, did say she was working to help mediate the situation.
CP Rail police are also at the scene. In a Facebook video posted from the scene, an officer can be heard telling protesters they are trespassing on private property.
Salem Woodrow, a spokesperson for the CPR, told KTW via email the company is monitoring the situation, but has yet to respond to questions regarding whether any trains have been disrupted by the protest.
It's unclear what, if any, police action may be taken in response to the protest. A call to the Chase RCMP detachment was not immediately returned.
— with files from the Salmon Arm Observer