Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs march in Vancouver to demand the dismantling of controversial RCMP C-IRG unit
Photo: “Members of the Gitxsan Nation’s rally called to dismantle the RCMP’s Community-Industry Response Group. Photo by Isaac Phan Nay for Canada’s National Observer.”
The National Observer reports: “Hereditary chiefs from the Gitxsan First Nation marched to BC Supreme Court in Vancouver on Wednesday morning [October 11], demanding an end to RCMP suppression of Indigenous-led protests against development.”
The article continues: “Met by a crowd of about 40 people at the steps of the courthouse, the leaders denounced court injunctions that stopped Indigenous land defenders from protesting development and called for the dismantling of the RCMP’s contentious Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG) and its presence on Indigenous land.”
Gitxsan Hereditary Chief Clifford Sampare says: “There’s no consideration for our traditional laws, and our law is to protect the land. When we try to go and protect our territories, they call a militia on us.” Hereditary Chief Gordon Sebastian adds: “We told them the deployment of the RCMP is not allowed on the Gitxsan territory.”
Radio-Canada also reports (in French): “The protesters are calling for the dismantling of the Community and Industry Safety Task Force…In a letter sent to the Supreme Court, the Office of the Hereditary Chiefs of the Gitxsan Nation [stated] ‘We believe that the continued use of terror by the [C-IRG] will eventually result in an accident or intentional death of an Aboriginal person, potentially a woman or a child. This is not acceptable.’”
Prior to the rally, CFNR reported: “In addition, the rally will call for the RCMP to sign an armistice agreement presented by the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs in April. It would limit the C-IRG’s access to their territory, calls for the cessation of hostile acts, and reduces the number of RCMP allowed on their territory to 9.”
Pipelines coming to Gitxsan territory
Amanda Follett Hosgood of The Tyee has previously reported that three pipelines – the TC Energy Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline and the Enbridge Pacific Trail and Westcoast Connector pipelines – have their environmental assessment certificates, “a blanket authorization allowing the pipelines to move forward”.
Her article further explains: “Among the territories that the three pipelines would cross are Wet’suwet’en yintah and Gitxsan laxyip. …The Gwininitxw Indigenous Protected Area, 170,000 hectares encompassing pristine wilderness that includes important wildlife habitat, unique wild salmon populations and Indigenous cultural heritage, [is] just upstream from the proposed route of two pipelines…”
The Globe and Mail has also previously reported: “Wilps Gwininitxw said in a statement that the protected territories are upstream from two proposed gas pipelines that would affect salmon-bearing rivers and streams: the [TC Energy] Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project and the [Enbridge] Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission Project.”
Wilps Gwininitxw member Ankhla Jennifer Zyp says: “We’re worried, for sure, that we’re going to be met with the same violence [as seen against the Wet’suwet’en], with the same push from the government. We’re concerned about how these pipelines crossing all these rivers are going to affect the salmon returning back to our territory.”
Photo: Heavily-armed RCMP C-IRG officers on Gitxsan territory, November 2021.
The Gitxsan media statement and rally kit for yesterday’s action can be found here.
The full National Observer article by Isaac Phan Nay can be read at ‘How is that reconciliation?’: Hereditary Gitxsan Nation chiefs rally for their rights (October 11, 2023).
Further reading: RCMP “E” Division says its “lawful obligations” take priority over Hereditary Chiefs ban on C-IRG on Gitxsan territory (PBI-Canada, March 17, 2023).