A group of protesters gathered at the Parker Lands in Winnipeg Friday in an effort to halt the removal of trees and destruction of what they call an important environmental wetland area.
The group surrounded a shredding machine that had been at work since Thursday, turning timber into toothpicks.
“We’re standing in front of the machines and making sure they’re not moving,” said protester Jenna Vandal.
“The construction company came and told us we were on private land, and we said we’re actually on Native land so we’re not moving. He left and got the police to come, and the police told us they’re just worried for our safety and left after that.”
Vandal, a Métis woman, is considering setting up an occupation of the site, bringing out tents and lighting a sacred fire. She’s less worried about being removed by the police than about just watching the forest be destroyed.
‘It should be criminal’
Vandal has signed numerous petitions, written to politicians at all levels of government, and used social media to make as many people as possible aware of the issue.
“I feel I’ve done what I can do and there’s nothing left but direct action. And sometimes that’s the only way to get things done,” she said.
‘I feel I’ve done what I can do and there’s nothing left but direct action. And sometimes that’s the only way to get things done.’
– Jenna Vandal
A group called the Parker Wetlands Conservation Committee has been lobbying government to set aside the Parker Lands — south of Taylor Avenue and just west of the Jubilee–Pembina interchange — as an ecological reserve for about three years.
“There is so much room elsewhere for development. We don’t have to develop these natural spaces that provide us with some green, and to have them destroyed,” said PWCC spokesman Cal Dueck.
“It should be criminal.”‘
Earlier this year, many of the trees were shredded as part of the next phase of the city’s rapid transit bus route.