As Canada seeks a UN Security Council seat on June 17, Wet’suwet’en land defenders reject man camps on their territory

Published by Brent Patterson on

The Unist’ot’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en nation has stated, “We, the Unist’ot’en (Dark House), do not give our free, prior, and informed consent for Coastal GasLink or any company to establish an industrial work camp on our territories.”

The final report by National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (June 2019) quoted James Anaya, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, on the issue of these work camps.

Anaya said, “Indigenous women have reported that the influx of workers into indigenous communities as a result of extractive projects [have] led to increased incidents of sexual harassment and violence, including rape and assault.”

The Inquiry found that “work camps, or man camps, associated with the resource extraction industry are implicated in higher rates of violence against Indigenous women at the camps and in the neighbouring communities.”

Earlier this year, The Narwhal reported, “There are 14 work camps planned to support the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline. Nine are already in operation, with additional camps expected to be built in 2020, according to a spokesperson with TC Energy, formerly TransCanada, which owns the pipeline.”

One of those camps, which would hold 400 workers, is to be built just 13 kilometres from the Unist’ot’en healing centre, which offers land-based wellness, trauma and addictions treatment programs to Indigenous peoples impacted by intergenerational trauma and a forced disconnection from their land and traditional teachings.

On December 13, 2019, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said that it was disturbed by the “harassment and intimidation by law enforcement officials against indigenous peoples who peacefully oppose large-scale development projects on their traditional territories.”

It then called on Canada “to immediately halt the construction and suspend all permits and approvals for the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline in the traditional and unceded lands and territories of the Wet’suwet’en people.”

And yet by January 13, 2020, Canadian police had set up an exclusion zone on the territory and on February 6 launched a pre-dawn raid on the territory and arrested Wet’suwet’en land defenders seeking to block construction of the pipeline.

As seen in this Unist’ot’en Camp video, construction on the pipeline has continued despite the social-distancing required by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the CBC now reports that Canada is “doubling down on its bid for a seat” on the UN Security Council that has already “set the government back $2 million.” That vote is scheduled to take place on June 17.

PBI-Canada has provided this online Urgent Action platform to enable people to send an email to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that calls on him to act in accordance with the UN Committee’s resolution before the UN vote.

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