Members of Parliament sign statement opposed to violence against Wet’suwet’en land defenders
Photo by Amber Bracken.
In 2020, there were at least 227 lethal attacks – an average of more than four a week – against land and environmental rights defenders around the world. Over a third of all the attacks were against Indigenous land defenders.
Last month, a two-day militarized RCMP raid on unceded Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia resulted in 32 arrests at gunpoint.
This follows similar heavily-armed raids in January 2019 and February 2020. Combined, the three raids resulted in 68 arrests.
We believe that a fatality could have occurred during any one of these attacks.
In this video from last month, land defender Sleydo’ yells at an RCMP officer to stop pointing his automatic weapon at her. In this video from 2020, land defender Denzel Sutherland-Wilson also calls on an RCMP sniper to stop pointing their rifle at him.
And notes from an RCMP strategy session prior to the 2019 raid show that RCMP commanders stated that “lethal overwatch is req’d” and that officers were instructed to “use as much violence toward the gate as you want” ahead of the operation to remove a roadblock established by Wet’suwet’en land defenders.
Now, three NDP Members of Parliament – Leah Gazan, Matthew Green and Lori Idlout – have signed this statement in solidarity with land defenders.
That statement says: “Wet’suwet’en land defenders are giving us an opportunity to change course: to be unequivocal in support for Indigenous rights and title and meet the challenge of the climate crisis by halting all new fossil fuel infrastructure.”
It adds: “We uplift the words of the Young New Democrats of Quebec.”
That statement highlights that “the militarized raid on the Gidimt’en Checkpoint and Coyote Camp” has “resulted in the arrests of land defenders and journalists and the removal of the Wet’suwet’en people from their own lands.”
That statement then calls on NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Deputy Leader Alexandre Boulerice to publicly denounce this violence and for the immediate withdrawal of the RCMP from Wet’suwet’en territory.
Gazan, Green and Idlout are joined by former NDP MP Romeo Saganash, 15 former candidates (including Avi Lewis and Anjali Appadurai), at least 25 riding associations, Ontario NDP MPP Joel Harden and about 1,000 grassroots party members.
Their call echoes this decision from the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination issued in December 2019.
The UN Committee urged Canada to stop construction on the Coastal GasLink pipeline and “to guarantee that no force will be used against Wet’suwet’en peoples and that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and associated security and policing services will be withdrawn from their traditional lands.”
Canada was required to submit a report on November 15 to the UN Committee on its compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, but has now delayed that until an unspecified date in 2022.
We welcome the expression of solidarity with land defenders and place the actions by Canadian police on Wet’suwet’en territory in the context of the global threat against Indigenous defenders of land and territorial rights.
Photo by Amber Bracken.