Braided Warriors to file complaint with UN over police violence during ceremony at pipeline insurance company
Video: “We wish to see abolishment of all police, of all police forces, on all Native lands.”
The Braided Warriors are filing a complaint with the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) over the police violence they experienced last month while in ceremony calling on insurance companies to drop coverage of the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline.
CTV reports: “Video showed members of the VPD [Vancouver Police Department] aggressively handling and pushing protesters to the ground. In one instance, it appears an officer pulled a person by their hair [as can be seen here].”
The Braided Warriors say that youth were “violently thrown to the ground, dragged across floors and down stairways, pulled by the hair and braid, thrown to surfaces covered in glass, strangled in a chokehold, and dragged face down on concrete.”
21-year-old Kaylee Wolflinger of the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan says: “While they were getting thrown out the door I saw that their drum was falling on the ground, and I’ve always been taught that drums should never touch the floor, so I went and leaped over and I went on my knees and I tried to pick up the drum.”
Wolflinger adds: “When I picked up the drum, I just felt a sudden force on my back, that pushed me down and my body and my head hit the floor where shattered glass was. I just remember being in a daze and continuing to watch the police violently displace Indigenous youth that were occupying this space.”
The Braided Warriors have also stated: “We call on these insurance giants [including AIG, Chubb Insurance, Liberty Mutual Group] to drop the toxic Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline. These Human Rights violations are what these insurance companies are covering – this pipeline project that violates our rights, and the criminalization of Indigenous Land Defenders and Human Rights Defenders are being exposed internationally.”
They add: “We are not just environmentalists, we are Indigenous Peoples with inherent rights to our lands and waters and responsibilities to uphold our Indigenous laws to defend these lands. Indigenous youth are not trespassing on unceded lands. We are defending this land from the destruction Trans Mountain will cause.”
This incident happened on February 19 in the lobby of the BMO building on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations (in Vancouver) where American International Group, Inc. (AIG) is located.
The Braided Warriors returned on March 1 to record the video testimonials to be sent to the United Nations Committee.
The Braided Warriors have also tweeted: “AIG and VPD need to understand that indigenous youth holding ceremony on their ancestral territories, in the lobby of a building operating on unceded land, is not ‘trespassing’.”
The UN Committee expects report by November 15
On December 13, 2019, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination passed this resolution expressing its concern about the construction of the Site C dam (on Treaty 8 territory), the Trans Mountain pipeline on Secwepemc territory, and the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory.
That decision called on Canada “to guarantee that no force will be used against Secwepemc and Wet’suwet’en peoples and that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and associated security and policing services will be withdrawn from their traditional lands.”
On November 24, 2020, the CERD wrote this letter to Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations that highlighted: “The Committee regrets that the State party has provided no information on measures taken to address the concerns [about the three megaprojects] raised by the Committee in its decision of 13 December 2019.”
That letter also noted that the Committee expects Canada to submit a report on its compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (that Canada ratified in 1970) by November 15, 2021.