Wet’suwet’en land defender Sleydo’ to Dublin Platform: “Canada’s reconciliation with our people is a mockery”

Published by Brent Patterson on

Front Line Defenders Americas has tweeted: “‘Canada’s reconciliation with our people is a mockery’ Powerful testimony from Wet’suwet’en land defender Sleydo Molly Wickham. They have used militarised police to force a pipeline on their territory. She has been threatened, harassed and arrested.”

The Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline

Sleydo’ has been arrested at gunpoint and criminalized for opposing the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline that is being constructed on her territory in northern British Columbia without free, prior and informed consent.

She has stated: “[The drilling at the site of our sacred headwaters] is happening now. The salmon are spawning in the river and you can actually hear the drilling happening from kilometres away. You can feel it in the ground, in the earth, from kilometres away. The salmon are spawning and you can feel the vibration of the drilling.”

The Coastal GasLink company is 65 per cent owned by the US-based private equity firm KKR and Alberta Investment Management Corporation, 25 per cent by Calgary-based TC Energy and 10 per cent by several First Nations.

Stand.earth has documented: “RBC is among top commercial banks providing the CGL project with working capital, including CAD $275 million in project finance, a co-financed $6.5 billion loan, a $40 million corporate loan, and $200 million in co-financed working capital – while acting as financial advisor for the pipeline.”

Sleydo’ has highlighted: “By financing the Coastal GasLink pipeline, RBC is choosing to bypass our right to free, prior, and informed consent and instead justify police violence against unarmed Wet’suwet’en people to push the project through. As an Indigenous woman, I have experienced violence by militarized RCMP to forcibly remove me from my own territory, criminalize me, and jail me. RBC is willing to risk the killing of unarmed Wet’suwet’en people by police to push this project through sovereign lands.”

Since January 2019, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has spent more than $25 million on their ongoing presence on the territory and have arrested more than 74 land defenders, legal observers and members of the media in three militarized raids. Over the three-month period of March to May 2022, the RCMP “attended” the Gidimt’en village near the Coastal GasLink drill pad site by Wedzin Kwa 269 times.

Video of Canadian police smashing down a door and arresting Sleydo’ at gunpoint on November 19, 2021.

The Line 3 tar sands pipeline

Ojibwe water protector Tara Zhaabowekwe Houska (seen in this photo with Sleydo’) was also present at the Dublin Platform.

She tweeted: “This week was intense heart work; uplifting, horrific, inspiring all at once. Frontliners sharing stories of brutality, triumph & refusing to stand down in the face of oppression. Miigwech @FrontLineHRD for bringing together Indigenous land defenders. #BigOilLies #WaterIsLife”

Houska and the Giniw Collective have struggled against the construction of the Calgary-based Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline that begins on Indigenous territory in Canada and crosses Anishinaabe territory in northern Minnesota.

Emily Atkin has reported in Heated: “Enbridge established a financial relationship with Minnesota law enforcement in May 2020, when the state Public Utilities Commission approved Line 3’s route permit. That permit required the oil giant to set up a special fund that would reimburse police responding to anything pipeline-related.”

That article highlights a reimbursement request from the police for “nearly $72,000 worth of riot gear and more than $10,000 in ‘less than lethal’ weapons and ammunition, including tear gas, pepper spray, bean bag and sponge rounds, flash-bang devices, and batons.”

On August 2, 2021, Houska tweeted: “Rubber bullets bought and paid for by Enbridge. Fuck Line 3. For the land, for the water, for the rice, for love of those to come, we stand.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the construction of the Line 3 pipeline in Canada in November 2016.

The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has documented that the top five financiers of Enbridge are Canadian banks: TD Bank, Bank of Montreal, Scotiabank, RBC and CIBC. Collectively they have provided billions of dollars in financing to Enbridge.

The Dublin Platform

The Dublin Platform is convened by our friends at Front Line Defenders.

They have explained: “Established in 2002, the Dublin Platform for Human Rights Defenders is a biennial event providing a truly unique opportunity for human rights defenders from almost every country in the world to gather in Dublin. Over 3 days in Dublin Castle, human rights defenders share strategies for advocacy and protection, build solidarity with colleagues around the world, and network with high-level decision makers from governmental and intergovernmental bodies.”

This year’s Dublin Platform took place from October 26 to 28.

Joana Kathe, the international coordinator for Peace Brigades International, was also present at the Dublin Platform.

Peace Brigades International-Canada will be following the Decolonial Solidarity day of action on Saturday November 5 that will call on the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) to defund Coastal GasLink. Mobilizations are happening in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Victoria, Belleville, Moncton and other cities. For more information, click here.

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