Wet’suwet’en land defender Delee Nikal at COP26: “Femicide is directly linked to ecocide”

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo from Aljazeera.

On November 9, a gathering for murdered and missing Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people was held near the COP26 summit site in Glasgow, Scotland.

At that gathering, Wet’suwet’en land defender Delee Nikal said:

“Femicide is directly linked to the ecocide … there needs to be more awareness that these extractive industries, all that is affecting our climate and destroying our territories, is intertwined with violence against our women and girls.”

The Guardian reports: “In Canada, Indigenous women and girls are targeted for violence more than any other group and are 12 times more likely to go missing or be killed [according to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls].”

The article adds: “In 2019, [that MMIWG inquiry] accepted the link between ‘boomtown’ and ‘man camp’ environments that emerged around resource extraction projects and violence against Indigenous women and girls.”

Jackie Hansen, a gender-rights campaigner with Amnesty International Canada, has also stated: “It is critical to note that whether you’re in Guatemala or Canada or the Philippines, we are seeing similar impacts when industry comes to town.”

The TC Energy Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline is currently being constructed on Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia without the free, prior and informed consent of the Wet’suwet’en peoples.

Two militarized RCMP raids have been launched in support of this megaproject. 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.

Peace Brigades International-Canada will be present on Wet’suwet’en territory this month to observe and report on this continuing land defence struggle.

At the gathering in Glasgow, Sto:lo and Nuučaan̓uł land defender Si-am Hamilton also stated: “Remember my face. Remember because it’s not if, it’s when you will go missing, if you are involved in land rights.”

She adds: “This year alone I’ve watched so much violence, towards specifically young Indigenous women and girls, at the hands of the police. I’ve watched so many people have their bones broken, their hair ripped out, their eyes gouged.”

Over the past year, Hamilton has been at the Ada’itsx / Fairy Creek blockades against old growth logging on Pacheedaht and Dididaht territories on Vancouver Island.

As PBI-Canada has amplified: “There have been reports of sexual assaults by RCMP [at the Ada’itsx blockades], continued media suppression and repeated targeting and mistreatment of Indigenous women, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ and 2 spirit land defenders.”

Hamilton has previously commented: “This is Canada. This is the legacy Canadians inherit. Violence is at the heart of the settler state.”

On COP26, Hamilton says: “At larger international events like this one and even at home, I don’t think that people understand just how dangerous the lives of Indigenous women have gotten. Our conversations shift towards catchy phrases like ‘net zero’ or ‘1.5’, which don’t represent just how violent the experience of growing up in an extractive world has become.”

And Hamilton emphasizes: “It’s not just in Canada, and it’s not just in Mexico, it’s all over the world. Wherever you find people that are struggling for the land, you will find missing women.”

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) report Gender-based violence and environment linkages further notes: “Women environmental human rights defenders (WEHRDs) endure gender-differentiated violence … by state or non-state actors … over the degradation of the environment and natural resources.”

That report cites the Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative (IM-Defensoras) finding that a total of 609 aggressions against WEHRDs were recorded between 2015 and 2016 in Mexico and Central America alone. In this same region, between 2012 and 2016, at least 42 WEHRDs were killed.

The IUCN report also notes that Guatemala, where Indigenous communities often find themselves in defence of their territories against extractive industries, has also experienced a startling rise in gender-based violence, particularly against indigenous women.

The full article by Libby Brooks in The Guardian can be read at: Indigenous women speak out at Cop26 rally: ‘Femicide is linked to ecocide’.

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