By Jimmy Kwan
Approximately 25 Ryerson students gathered outside the Student Campus Centre (SCC) in support of the recent Wet’suwet’en rallies Wednesday afternoon.
Organized by the Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson (CESAR), the walkout was part of a national student walk out across Canada.
“The purpose of the walkout today is uniting across Canada and solidarity with Wet’suwet’en,” said Nicole Brayiannis, president of CESAR.
“This is really about…bringing justice for Indigenous peoples across the board, not just on this one issue in regards to pipelines, but also about having access to clean drinking water on reserves and respecting the rights of Indigenous peoples on their land,” she said.
On Feb. 25, a large blockade was held on the rail tracks in the Dundas and Jane area. Led by land defenders, the protest was in support of Wet’suwet’en solidarity. This along with many other rallies were in response to the federal government pushing the Wet’suwet’en off their territory to build a 670 km pipeline.
Brayiannis said the original plan was to direct people to Queen’s Park and coordinate with students from the University of Toronto (UoT) and George Brown.
“We’re hopeful that students are able to come out today. There was a lot of activity online in terms of engagement,” Brayiannis said.
While the original plan of moving the walkout to Queen’s Park didn’t happen, at its peak, approximately 25 students walked out of their classes. However, plans to meet students from the University of Toronto and George Brown College at Queen’s Park fell through and the students remained outside the SCC. Many students remained to write letters of support for Wet’suwet’en, which they taped on a board next to the SCC doors.
“For people who are just joining and just hearing about this, I hope that they will take some time to go do some research and look at the timeline of events,” said Mir Asoh, a creative industries student. They also referred to the online Wet’suwet’en supporter toolkit as a way for allies to get involved.
The Wet’suwet’en supporter toolkit is a guide that can be found on the official Unist’ot’en camp website. The toolkit offers links to donate and volunteer on Wet’suwet’en land, as well as protocols for fundraisers and sharing information on social media.
By 2 p.m., CESAR closed down their station to move back inside the SCC. They kept the board of letters next to the Good Food Centre stand inside to continue their outreach throughout the day.