Wet’suwet’en land defenders enforce evacuation order, close Morice River Forest Service Road

Published by Brent Patterson on

Gidimt’en Checkpoint photo.

On November 14 at 9 pm PT, Gidimt’en Checkpoint tweeted: “WET’SUWET’EN people are once again in control of Wet’suwet’en yintah! [Hereditary Chief] Dinï ze’ Woos asserts jurisdiction by enforcing our laws with the 2021 Evacuation Order. The Morice River FSR [Forest Service Road] has been disabled, blocking trespassers from our yintah [territory]!”

They add: “CGL [Coastal GasLink] was given 8 hours to evacuate their worksites and after asking for an extension of two hours to get their workers out safely, CGL chose to keep their workers in the territory. They blockaded the road with trucks and heavy machinery on a bridge near what is known as Camp 9A.”

Jennifer Wickham, Gidimt’en Checkpoint media coordinator, says the eviction order radioed to CGL pipeline workers came with conditions that no Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers travel past the 30- kilometre point on Morice River and that all workers leave peacefully without any violence or harassment.

The RCMP

The deadline for evacuation had been set for 1 pm PT, but, as noted above, extended to 3 pm PT at the request of Coastal GasLink.

At 12 pm PT, Michael Toledano tweeted: “ALERT: 3 RCMP have broken the conditions of the evacuation and are responding to Gidimt’en frontline.” At that time, the Gidimt’en Checkpoint also tweeted: “Reports now they are putting up a drone.”

Yesterday, Dawn Roberts of the RCMP said: “We have had and will continue to have a police presence in the area. The primary responsibility of those officers has been to conduct roving patrols and respond to any complaints, but there has [sic] been no indications that I’m aware of that we were doing any enforcement today.”

Militarized raids in 2019 and 2020

The RCMP have previously launched two heavily militarized raids.

The first was on January 8, 2019, when 14 land defenders were arrested. Three weeks prior to that, the Gidimt’en clan had established a checkpoint at the 44-kilometre mark on the forest service road in support of a long-standing Unist’ot’en clan blockade at the 66-kilometre mark at the bridge crossing the Wedzin Kwa (Morice River).

After that raid, The Guardian reported, “Canadian police were prepared to shoot Indigenous land defenders blockading construction of a natural gas pipeline.”

And the second raid began on February 6, 2020, in which another 22 land defenders were arrested over a 5-day period.

In that instance, the RCMP set up an exclusion zone on January 13 blocking the public and media access at the 27-kilometre mark on the forest service road.

At the time of the second raid, The Tyee reported: “More than 40 officers arrived at the Gidimt’en camp at kilometre 44 on the Morice West Forest Service Road in two helicopters and a dozen police vehicles… People at the Gidimt’en camp said the RCMP force included tactical squad officers armed with rifles.”

International community

The international community is watching this situation closely.

World Beyond War and Christian Peacemaker Teams have been present on Wet’suwet’en territory for the past two weeks.

Today is also the deadline for Canada to submit its report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on its compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

On December 19, 2019, the UN Committee passed this resolution that called on: “The State party to guarantee that no force will be used against the Wet’suwet’en peoples and that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and associated security and policing services will be withdrawn from their traditional lands.”

This past June, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Supreme Court of the UK also issued statements on blockades in relation to the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, calling for tolerance and cautioning against disproportionate responses.

Peace Brigades International-Canada will be present on Wet’suwet’en territory beginning later this week as observers to monitor and report on compliance by the state with international human rights norms and conventions.

2020 map.

Categories: News Updates

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