Wet’suwet’en solidarity protesters close Portage and Main

Protesters shut down Winnipeg’s most iconic intersection Wednesday for a round dance held in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

Winnipeg police blocked off streets around Portage and Main around 3 p.m. as well over 100 people gathered for the demonstration.

Dr. La Royce Batchelor, an instructor from Red River College, said she was taking part in the demonstration to support three of her students, who she said helped organize the action.

“We can spend billions of dollars to build a pipeline across lands that we agreed we would first acquire with appropriate, informed consent and we have not done (that) yet,” said Batchelor.

“But we can’t provide clean, potable water? We can’t provide broadband for more appropriate, equitable education?

“Clearly the priorities of the government are slightly askew.”

Demonstrators banged drums, chanted, and walked around in a large circle formed in the intersection before two groups broke off around 4:15 p.m., one heading south on Main Street and the other west down Portage Avenue.

In a tweet the City of Winnipeg said police were on scene, redirecting traffic at several intersection in the downtown.

Demonstrators expected to continue the action until at least 5 p.m.

Winnipeg police said motorists should expect delays and should avoid the downtown if possible.

Dozens of similar demonstrations and blockades have been held across Canada over the last few weeks.

The movement aims to shut down the country’s economy in the wake of RCMP enforcement of a court injunction against the Wet’suwet’en members blocking construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline near Houston, B.C.

RCMP moved into the traditional, unceded Wet’suwet’en territory on Feb. 6.

The $6.6-billion Coastal GasLink project is meant to carry natural gas from northeastern B.C. to Kitimat.

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