PBI-Canada to travel to Wet’suwet’en territory as land defenders protect river from pipeline
PBI-Canada director Brent Patterson will be travelling to Wet’suwet’en territory in November in response to the call from the Gidimt’en Clan for observers and witnesses to their land defence struggle against the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
The fracked gas pipeline is being built on Wet’suwet’en territory without their free, prior and informed consent. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has called on Canada to stop this megaproject.
The Committee has also called on Canada to remove the Royal Canadian Mountain Police (RCMP) from Wet’suwet’en traditional lands.
Instead, Export Development Canada, a public financing agency owned by the Government of Canada, has provided loans of up to $500 million to Coastal GasLink.
And the RCMP, the federal police agency overseen by a federal Cabinet minister, has spent $13.1 million between January 2019 and March 2020 maintaining its presence of Wet’suwet’en territory to facilitate the construction of the pipeline.
Millions more have presumably been spent since then.
The RCMP has conducted two militarized raids on unarmed Wet’suwet’en land defenders. The first was on January 8, 2019, when 14 land defenders were arrested. And the second on February 6, 2020, in which another 22 land defenders were arrested.
There are concerns that a third RCMP raid may be imminent.
The situation escalated when Coastal GasLink began to set up to drill a pipeline route under the Wedzin Kwa river. In response, Wet’suwet’en land defenders began an occupation of the drill site on Saturday September 25 to protect the river that is sacred to them.
There have been several arrests since then including most recently Likhts’amisyu Clan Hereditary Chief Dsta’hyl and Gitxsan land defender Kolin Sutherland-Wilson.
The Wet’suwet’en have stated repeatedly that the building of the pipeline without their consent is a violation of Wet’suwet’en law, both their inherent rights that predate Canada but also as title holders recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada.
To read about Tkaronto-based organizer Rachel Small of World Beyond War travelling to Gidimt’en territory at about the same time, please see her article: Why I’m Going to the Frontlines of the Wet’suwet’en Resistance.
The 22,000 square kilometres of Wet’suwet’en territory is divided into five clans, including Gitdumden (Wolf/Bear) and Laksamshu (Fireweed). The Coyote Camp on Gidimt’en territory where Coastal GasLink intends to drill under Wedzin Kwa is about 63 kilometres west of Houston via the Morice West Forest Service Road.
Stills from the documentary Invasion.