Supporters of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs occupying the B.C. Legislature held an all-day rally on Saturday in anticipation of a white supremacy group rumoured to attend.
Indigenous speakers began addressing the crowd at 10 a.m. on Feb. 29 – day six of the group’s second occupation of the B.C. legislature steps – and explained that a white supremacy group called Soldiers of Odin had indicated that members planned to make an appearance at the legislature.
This week there was a nationwide call out for Sons of Odin and Proud boys to rally together across Canada and dismantle Indigenous blockades and solidarity actions.— Indigenous Youth for Wet’suwet’en (@IY4wetsuweten) February 29, 2020
We are youth holding ceremony in solidarity w/our Wet’suwet’en relations, we recognize what’s being done to them could be done to any of us or our communities & we are being targeted by white supremacist hate groups.— Indigenous Youth for Wet’suwet’en (@IY4wetsuweten) February 29, 2020
We deeply appreciate your support, your presence keeps us safe. pic.twitter.com/kcfjzxRceD
The large group of Wet’suwet’en supporters was gathered to hear various speakers discuss standing up to hate “from a position of love,” said Ta’kaiya Blaney, one of the young Indigenous people occupying the steps of the legislature.
“White supremacists feel threatened because they know their systems are dying and we [Indigenous people] are very much alive,” Blaney said as the crowd cheered and raised their fists.
Blaney noted that the focus of the demonstration should remain on the Wet’suwet’en opposing the Coastal GasLink pipeline, not on white supremacy.
The Wet’suwet’en supporters that remain blockaded outside the BC Legislature Building have begun a rally. Speakers say a white supremacy group called Soldiers of Odin have indicated that members will be attending the blockade today. @BlackPressMedia @VictoriaNews pic.twitter.com/2EBLmdCawD— Devon Bidal (@devonscarlett) February 29, 2020
Rally attendees were invited to take part in a briefing on soft blockade techniques to prepare for the possible appearance of the counter-protesters.
At noon, rally attendees made their way across the legislature lawn after a member of the Soldiers of Odin was allegedly spotted. The man, dressed in black, quickly departed as the Wet’suwet’en supporters approached.
Conrad Peach, president of the Soldiers of Odin Vancouver Island, told Black Press Media in an email sent Sunday morning that no members of the group went to the legislature on Saturday and that rumours of their presence were a “complete fabrication.”
“It is not my organization’s responsibility to enforce the laws of Canada but if our government and police fail to do so, you may very well see us in the near future,” Peach said.
VicPD officers at the legislature said there had been no confirmation that Soldiers of Odin planned to attend but noted police were aware of a social media post that had sparked concern among the group currently occupying the building.
Bowen Osoko, a spokesperson for VicPD, emphasized that officers have been in attendance during the entire occupation and that their goal is to keep everyone safe while they exercise their right to protest.