Tyendinaga Land Defenders Legal Fund established to help with court costs related to Wet’suwet’en solidarity action
A Tyendinaga Land Defenders Legal Fund is accepting donations for the legal costs of the 20 Mohawk land defenders and water protectors criminalized for standing with Wet’suwet’en land defenders this past February in opposition to the construction of the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline on their unceded lands.
Ma’at Legal Services is a Scarborough, Ontario-based social justice law firm that provides representation in areas such as human rights law.
This past February, solidarity actions were organized across the country when heavily armed Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers raided unceded Wet’suwet’en territory to remove unarmed land defenders opposed to the construction without consent of the TC Energy Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline on their lands.
Twenty-eight land defenders were arrested on Wet’suwet’en lands despite this resolution from the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination weeks earlier that called for construction on the pipeline to be stopped and the RCMP to be withdrawn.
On February 25, Global News reported: “Ontario Provincial Police [OPP] arrested ‘several’ people at a railway [protest] in Tyendinaga, which was set up nearly three weeks ago in solidarity with anti-pipeline protests in northern British Columbia.”
CTV also noted: “All ten people were charged with mischief over $5000 and disobeying a court order, as well as a Railway Safety Act charge of entering land where line work is situated. Three people are additionally charged with resisting arrest. One person is also facing a charge of obstructing police.”
Then on July 9, the OPP arrested Kanenhariyo, the main Mohawk liaison with the police during the Tyendinaga rail shutdown in February.
It was also reported at that time: “OPP Detective Karin Richer, who arrested Kanenhariyo, informed him that the OPP was looking to charge another ‘9 or 10’ people that they hadn’t yet reached because of Covid-19.”
The Unist’ot’en have stated: “We acknowledge that many still face charges for courageously standing in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en, and that this fight is far from over. We are forever grateful for the solidarity and support from our relatives and allies.”
Defenders of land rights, culture and natural resources can find themselves facing powerful interests and brutal opposition. Some in Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico have approached Peace Brigades International field projects for protection after they have been attacked or their colleagues assassinated. Many others have been subjected to criminal prosecutions based on spurious charges.