PBI-Canada watches with great concern the expected RCMP action on Wet’suwet’en territory today
The Indigenous Unist’ot’en land defence camp on unceded Wet’suwet’en territory in British Columbia has now stated that it expects a “militarized invasion of our territories” by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) today (Wednesday February 5).
The Unist’ot’en add, “Busloads of police have taken over local community halls, airport hangers have become RCMP training grounds, while armored pickup trucks and police dogs have been spotted in the area. Canada is preparing to use militarized force to steal our lands and destroy them, with the world as witness.”
And Michael Toledano has tweeted, “RCMP taking over community centers to stage militarized raid. A mobile command unit is parked out front.”
This RCMP mobilization happened during discussions between the company Coastal GasLink, that wants to build a fracked gas pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory, and the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, the legal governance body of this territory.
The Wet’suwet’en Nation has not given its free, prior and informed consent to the construction of this pipeline on their traditional lands.
The Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs have stated in this media release dated yesterday, “Coastal Gaslink declined to see this discussion resulting in progress. Therefore, the enforcement of the injunction zone is imminent.”
That injunction was issued by a lower court in British Columbia even though the Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed that the Wet’suwet’en never surrendered title to their ancestral lands and accepted extensive evidence outlining their hereditary governance system.
The Unist’ot’en Camp states, “We are peaceful people and we have every right to protect the land that defines and sustains us.”
“We continue to honour our ancient laws, shaped over millennia to ensure a sustainable relationship with the land; while BC and Canada fail to honour their recent commitments to reconciliation and to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.”
The Unist’ot’en Camp adds, “We are protecting our right to exist as Indigenous people, while protecting the land and water for everyone’s future generations.”
At this time, Peace Brigades International-Canada recalls statements of concern made by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, British Columbia’s Human Rights Commissioner, dozens of academics and lawyers from across Canada, and the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
The UN Committee called on Canada to guarantee that no force would be used against the Wet’suwet’en peoples and asked that the RCMP and associated security and policing services be withdrawn from their traditional lands.
Last year, heavily armed RCMP officers raided the Gidimt’en checkpoint. The Guardian has reported, “Canadian police were prepared to shoot Indigenous land defenders blockading construction of a natural gas pipeline… The RCMP commanders also instructed officers to ‘use as much violence toward the gate as you want’…”
This potential for violence against Indigenous land defenders in the current context is of the deepest concern to us.