More than $29 million spent on criminalizing Indigenous land defenders at Wet’suwet’en and 1492 Land Back Lane

Published by Brent Patterson on

Millions of dollars are spent on the “policing” of Indigenous land defenders on their traditional and unceded lands in this country.

On March 30, 1492 Land Back Lane tweeted: “Today we have learned the OPP have spent $16.3 million dollars on the policing of 1492 Landback Lane from July 19, 2020 to January 19, 2021. That’s an average of $2.6 million a month or $90,000 a day.”

This follows an APTN article by Brett Forester that reports: “The figures reveal the OPP were spending between $2 million and $3 million per month on salaries, round-the-clock overtime, food, hotels, travel costs, supplies, equipment, building rentals and other related expenses between July 2020 and January 2021.”

Land defender Skyler Williams says: “What an amazing waste of money. Rather than spending $16.3 million on policing and seeing the criminalization of Indigenous people standing up for their rights, they could’ve sent two ministers down here from the feds, a couple from the province, and resolved this in a peaceful way eight months ago.”

Similarly, a few months ago, Chantelle Bellrichard reported: “The cost of policing the Coastal GasLink pipeline conflict in northern B.C. between January 2019 and March 2020 was more than $13 million, according to documents obtained by CBC News.”

That article quotes Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Na’moks who said the police costs were “a tremendous waste of money.”

We also recall that the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has urged Canada to withdraw the RCMP and associated security and policing services from Wet’suwet’en traditional lands.

More broadly, Global Witness in its report on threats against land and environmental defenders has called on governments to “guarantee that no business project goes ahead without the free, prior and informed consent of potentially and affected indigenous communities at every stage of the project cycle or operation.”

PBI-Canada expresses concern about the criminalization of Indigenous land defenders and water protectors in this country.

We express further concern about the legislation in Alberta and Manitoba that would further criminalize and punish these land defenders.

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