Council of Canadians chapters, staff and supporters joined solidarity actions with the Wet'suwet'en this week.
Today is the deadline for a B.C. Supreme Court injunction for Wet'suwet'en land defenders to leave their unceded territory and allow construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline to continue.
The land defenders have said they will not comply.
The Council of Canadians stands in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs and land defenders and calls on the Canadian and B.C. governments and RCMP to respect their right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – a declaration that the B.C. government enshrined in law less than two months ago.
Earlier this week, TC Energy Corp., owner of the $6.6 billion Coastal GasLink pipeline project in northern British Columbia, said it will be resuming pipeline construction on the land despite the fact that Hereditary Chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en have said no to the project.
It appeared as though the RCMP was preparing to enforce the injunction when it blocked access on the road leading to the First Nation’s camps earlier this week and stopped people from delivering winter supplies there despite the frigid temperatures.
According to the National Observer, legal complaints have now been filed about the RCMP’s most recent actions and calls have increased for the Wet'suwet'en’s rights to be respected and for the RCMP to stand down. The RCMP is reported to have said that turning people away was a “miscommunication,” but the admission hasn’t eased concerns that police will be escalating actions in the area.
There is now a fear that the RCMP will forcibly and violently evict peaceful land defenders, just as it did in January 2019.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has called on Canada to halt construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline until the Wet’suwet’en people grant Free, Prior and Informed Consent to the project. The committee has also urged Canada to cease the forced eviction of land defenders and prohibit the use of lethal weapons against Indigenous peoples and urged the federal government to withdraw the RCMP from traditional lands.
But as of now, there is no sign that the RCMP will do so.
Land defenders have shared on the Unist’ot’en Camp website: “On December 31, 2019, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Church granted an injunction against members of the Wet’suwet’en nation who have been stewarding and protecting our traditional territories from the destruction of multiple pipelines, including Coastal GasLink’s liquefied natural gas pipeline.” The Wet’suwet’en issued a call for international solidarity actions in response to this escalating situation.
The Council of Canadians is standing in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en. We have issued a statement and are encouraging people to write to their Member of Parliament to demand that the federal government stop this violation of Indigenous rights and sovereignty.
We – and the world – will be watching the choices the federal and provincial governments make.