Treaty 4 residents mobilize to support the Wet’suwet’en struggle against the Coastal GasLink project
A rally in support of Wet’suwet’en protesters against the Coastal GasLink Project, which would cross Wet’suwet’en territory, took place on Saturday afternoon at Victoria Park in Regina on Treaty 4 lands.
About two dozen people gathered in the park. The event was in part hosted by local Indigenous activists and the Regina Chapter of the Council of Canadians.
On Friday, November 19, British Columbia RCMP arrested 15 people, including two journalists, as they attempted to enforce an injunction.
Among those arrested were award-winning photojournalist Amber Bracken and documentary filmmaker Michael Toledano, both of whom have since been released.
The RCMP was enforcing an injunction ordered by the British Columbia Supreme Court that prevents opponents from obstructing access to Coastal GasLink activities, which are permitted by Canadian law.
The day before, the RCMP said they were preparing to “rescue” more than 500 workers “trapped” by a blockade aimed at stopping construction of a pipeline on unceded First Nations land.
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Several days earlier, the Gidimt’en checkpoint, which shares information about the blockade, tweeted that the Wet’suwet’en Nation had successfully enforced their “old trespassing laws” and closed the territory.
“Police were deployed in military uniform, armed with assault weapons and dog teams, and imposed a media and communications blackout at the site. First, a cabin was pierced with an ax and a dog, ”Sleydo Molly Wickham said in a statement.
“Moments later, a separate cabin built on the proposed Coastal GasLink drilling rig site was pierced with a chainsaw and snipers pointed at the door,” the statement continued.
Wickham has been the primary spokesperson for the Gidimt’en Checkpoint for several years and is also a member of the Gidimt’en Clan within the Wet’suwet’en Nation.
In the statement, she writes that the RCMP did not have a warrant to enter either of the homes and that after raiding the Coyote camp, the police swept through the Gidimt’en checkpoint. and made other arrests.
In the same statement, Hereditary Chief Wet’suwet’en Woos said: “I don’t see any reconciliation in this. For our brothers and sisters in all Indigenous organizations, let this be a sign that reconciliation in their eyes is truly the White Paper in disguise.
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“Gidimt’en strongly condemns the repeated violations of Wet’suwet’en jurisdiction and Wet’suwet’en law amid floods, storms and an unprecedented provincial state of emergency,” the statement added .
Community members at Saturday’s rally said they were appalled by the “violent” and militaristic actions recently taken by the RCMP to arrest defenders of indigenous lands, even members of the media and others struggling to protect. natural resources in the northwestern region of British Columbia.
“For all those who struggle against land and resource extraction, these are our vital resources,” said Thunderbird Thunderwoman, one of the rally organizers.
Members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation and their supporters have been battling the Coastal GasLink pipeline for several years, with RCMP responding to similar blockages put in place to block construction in January 2019 and 2020.
“Our ecosystems are sick, the world knows it and the world is saying what are we going to do about climate change?” Thunderwoman said.
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“So that’s what we’re doing, we’re trying to shut down the pipelines… we’re trying to shut down the mines, we’re trying to push for sustainability. We don’t stand in the way of progress, we just don’t want to downgrade. “
Thunderwoman said she had been in contact with those demonstrating in Wet’suwet’en and said the people she knew are peaceful and have pure intentions, and are not guided by “greed”.
“We come from a matriarch, so in a matriarch there is no war, we do not have an army in our service, unlike Canada, which has the RCMP fully militarized,” Thunderwoman said. .
She goes on to say that local residents will continue to support those on the ground protesting on First Nations territory in British Columbia until a sound and environmentally fair resolution can be found among the protesters. and the Canadian government.
The Wet’suwet’en are a First Nation in northern British Columbia who have never signed a treaty or given up their rights or title to their lands.
In 1997, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa case that the Wet’suwet’en had not relinquished their rights or titles to their land.
According to a report by the British Columbia Treaty Commission, the ruling means that “aboriginal title exists in British Columbia” and that “when dealing with Crown land, the government must consult and may have to compensate the First Nations ”.
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While several elected chiefs on reserves have signed the Coastal GasLink project, the hereditary chiefs remain against it.
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have long argued that elected band chiefs do not have jurisdiction to speak on behalf of the nation and that hereditary chiefs, an independent governing body that represents clans within the Wet ‘Nation suwet’en, to do.
– with files from Elizabeth McSheffrey of Global News, Sawyer Bogdan and The Candian Press
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