Idle No More protests keep transit riders at bay
Hundreds of protesters pile into Waterfront Station Wednesday for the latest Idle No More rally. Aboriginals want the federal government to kill Bill C-45, which they claim endanger their sovereignty. (TYLER ORTON/ 24 HOURS)
Pounding drums, native chants and a near-impenetrable crowd of hundreds stymied commuters trying to catch the SkyTrain Wednesday at Waterfront Station as Idle No More protesters packed into one of Vancouver’s biggest transit hubs.
The entrance to the Canada Line was partially blocked by protesters at the afternoon rally, which drew throngs of mostly aboriginal people demonstrating against a federal bill they claim will diminish land and treaty rights.
Protester Tonianne Willier said the movement is slowly building momentum across Canada and the globe, but the average Canadian still doesn’t know what Idle No More stands for.
“It’s not about our ‘free ride,’” she said. “It’s about our land — when I say ‘our land’ I mean everybody’s land. We all breathe the same air, we all drink the same water.”
Bill C-45 amends the way property can be leased on aboriginal reserves and revokes certain federal environmental protections.
Donning a Chicago Blackhawks cap with feathers sticking out the back, speaker Benjamin Paul told the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd all he wanted was “for our rights and our lands to stay ours.”
Before people spent nearly an hour in the station beating drums and burning incense, Paul urged the crowd to “educate themselves before they come out and protest” if they wanted to be taken seriously.
Although the protest remained peaceful, a number of commuters grew visibly weary of the crowd as the demonstration went past 4 p.m.
A woman barked “excuse me” a few times before eventually shoving a stroller from her path as she tried entering the Canada Line entrance.