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Hundreds rallied and marched through downtown Ottawa. Photo: Aaron Hemens/The Fulcrum

The rally was designed to put pressure on MPs to take action in the situation unfolding in Wet’suwet’en

A solidarity rally and march for the Wet’suwet’en First Nation on Monday saw hundreds of Indigenous youth, Elders and allies flood the streets of downtown Ottawa before staging a sit-in outside of the Prime Minister’s Office later that afternoon.

With Members of Parliament (MP) meeting all day for a sitting of the House of Commons, the aim of the demonstration was to pressure MPs to meet with Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, and to push them to remove the RCMP and the Coastal GasLink (CGL) off Wet’suwet’en territory.

“It’s destroying what we hold sacred, and we’re not going to take it anymore. We’re going to say ‘no’ this time,” said Sophia Sidarous, an Indigenous youth and second-year conflict studies and human rights student at the University of Ottawa.

Charlie Angus, the MP for Timmins-James Bay, told the crowd prior to the march that he was proud and excited to see Indigenous youth taking action.

“We will be a better place because of this, and you are the leaders,” said Angus. 

Leah Gazan, the MP for Winnipeg Centre, added that she was happy to see people from all backgrounds come together to support the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“We are standing in the way of a growing corporate dictatorship that puts profits over the human rights of peoples,” said Leah

Several anti-pipeline demonstrations in the form of train blockades have been erected across the country throughout the past few weeks, with the rally in Ottawa coming just days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the blockades “unacceptable and untenable.”

“The movement across this country is changing this country and will change this country, and you are the changemakers,” said Angus.

The march began at the Parliament Visitor Centre, where the group advanced west towards Wellington Street. At the intersection of Wellington Street and Kent Street, the group was met with a wall of police officers who unsuccessfully attempted to redirect them away from marching through the downtown core.

Several roads were shut down, and authorities allowed the march to advance down Kent Street toward Slater Street, where they recited chants such as “We are peaceful, we are unarmed, we are for Wet’suwet’en” along the way.

After cutting through the downtown core, the group formed a circle at the intersection of Rideau Street and Sussex Drive, where drum songs and round dances were performed.

As the momentum died down, members of the group marched up Rideau Street back onto Wellington Street. The rally concluded with a sit-in right outside of Parliament Hill, near the Prime Minister’s Office.