Hwy 6 bypass re-opens after social media debate

The Highway Six bypass surrounding Caledonia, which was shut down in November in solidarity with a B.C. First Nation protesting an oil pipeline, has re-opened to traffic again.

But not before a debate on social media that included a disparaging and homophobic remarks from one land defender, Dex Whitlow.

Whitlow launched into homophobic slurs and an attack on local residents asking for the road blockade on Highway 6 to be removed while community members discussed opening the road for the safety of motorists.

Six Nations supporters shut down the bypass on November 18 in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en Nation, who were forcefully removed from camps stopping Coastal Gas Link employees from installing the pipeline, during a series of RCMP raids in late November.

The bypass re-opening coincided with a Facebook post from a Six Nations community member the day before, asking when the bypass would be re-opened because the roadblocks were not making effective political change and delays were predominantly affecting Six Nations residents.

One person reported a 35 minutes delay transporting a person to hospital for emergency care due to the bypass being blocked by protesters.

“Seems like the ones effected (sic) most by this road closed is our own people,” one resident wrote. “I feel for them ppl in BC but I feel for the well being of 6nations more.”

Others agreed that “blocking the road isn’t getting us anywhere” and that it did a good job at raising awareness of the struggles of the Wet’suwet’en Nation at first but it wasn’t necessary anymore.

Another person suggested road blockades could allow for emergency vehicles to pass through, while another said it is not right that only a select few people in the community decide when to close the roads during acts of solidarity without consulting the rest of the community.

The discussion became a bit heated when Whitlow began hurling personal insults at residents for wanting the roads to be opened and launched a flurry of other hurtful and homophobic comments toward community members. Whitlow disclosed in the discussion that he is as a resident of the 1492 Land Back Lane occupation site. TRT confirmed with Land Back Lane spokesperson Skyler Williams that Whitlow is also the land defender responsible for the 1492 Land Back Lane’s Facebook page.

The road was eventually opened on Tuesday morning.

The official Facebook page for the group occupying the former McKenzie Meadows construction site in Caledonia, 1492 Land Back Lane, said on Tuesday, “We have removed barricades from the Highway #6 by-pass. The By-Pass opening is now at the discretion of the MTO. We will continue to stand in support of the Wet’suwet’en and all our brothers and sisters across Turtle Island. Unity amongst all Onkwehonwe makes all of us stronger. Land back everywhere!”

“The OPP’s objective is to maintain the safe flow of traffic and, when delays occur, restore traffic flow in the safest manner possible,” the OPP said in a statement. “The OPP is also working with those who may organize protest events to provide a safe and peaceful opportunity to exercise their lawful rights while minimizing the impact on the traveling public, where possible.”

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