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Squamish demonstrators hold second rally supporting Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs

Protesters gathered at Bank of Montreal downtown

Standing just outside the Bank of Montreal, Larry Douglas contemplated pulling his money out of the institution.

Douglas, a Squamish Nation member, was part of the more than a dozen people who were putting on a demonstration in support of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs at noon on Feb. 14.

Hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en Nation say the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which crosses their territory in northern B.C., is illegal. However, elected Nation councils have supported the project.

Demonstrations have been occurring with renewed vigour after the RCMP started forcing demonstrators in northern B.C. to disperse their blockade earlier this month.

Officers were enforcing an injunction granted by the Supreme Court of B.C. in late December.

Since then, rallies in support of the Wet’suwet’en Nation have sprung up across the country.

In Squamish, protesters stood outside the bank entrance and later walked with their placards to the Cleveland-Pemberton Avenue intersection. Drivers periodically honked their support and gave the thumbs-up.

“I’ve dealt with this bank ever since Day 1 when I first started working and a had a little money to put away in the bank,” Douglas said.

“Right now, I've got quite a bit of money in here and I'm not too happy with them possibly using my money to invest.”

Douglas was referring to activists’ claims that the Bank of Montreal is a major funder of the project. The Rainforest Action Network has previously reported that the bank is the second biggest lender to TransCanada Pipelines Ltd., with loans that add up to $4.3 billion.

Douglas also said he was displeased with the racial-profiling case involving the one of the BMO branches in Vancouver.

CBC previously reported a BMO employee called the police on a First Nations elder and his granddaughter.

“I’m here because I’m standing in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en people and also for just general climate action,” said Thomasina Pidgeon, who was also at the rally.

“I don’t think we should be investing any more in pipelines and also not at the expense of Indigenous rights and freedoms.”

It marks the second time demonstrators have voiced their support for the Wet'suwet'en this week. Previously, protesters took to downtown Squamish streets on Feb. 10.

Squamish residents haven’t been the only ones to raise placards in protest.

Edmonton, Nelson and Trail are some examples of other areas where demonstrators have rallied at BMO branches, calling for the bank’s divestment from the project.

Street protests have also erupted in Vancouver and throughout the country, and railway blockades have forced trains to grind to a halt in some cases.

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