Gitxsan land defenders to rally against the RCMP’s militarized C-IRG unit, November 21 in Smithers
Members of the Gitxsan nation will be rallying in Smithers tomorrow (November 21) to “ban a militarized RCMP C-IRG that terrorize our people and land defenders.”
The Gitxsan Huwilp Government says:
“Industry-led injunctions ordered by the BC Supreme Court Chief Justice to allow the looting of indigenous lands must stop. Further, the RCMP volunteering to deploy the Community –Industry Response Group (C-IRG) – which is under investigation for corruption – as a military solution to perpetrate industry greed must stop. For the RCMP to extinguish indigenous peoples’ fulsome rights on their lands, threaten our lives, terrorize our women and children, weaponize our land defense is indefensible.”
The Gitxsan highlight that the rally is being held to:
- Stop industry-led injunctions that allow industry looting of indigenous lands
- To pressure the RCMP to sign the Armistice Agreement tabled by the Gitxsan Huwilp Government
- To dismantle the RCMP C-IRG (only militarized unit in Canada)
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.
CRCC launch systemic investigation of the C-IRG
On March 9, 2023, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) launched a “systemic investigation” of the C-IRG. The terms of reference for that investigation can be read here. It remains unclear when the findings of the investigation will be released and if they will acknowledge/recognize the demands of Indigenous nations like the Gitxsan.
It does not appear that the investigation will be looking further into the choking of a Gitxsan land defender in November 2021.
Video: CBC has reported that 24 year old Gitxsan land defender Denzel Sutherland-Wilson shouted “I can’t breathe!” as RCMP officers tackled him at an encampment that was opposing the C-IRG raid on Wet’suwet’en territory.
For more on the C-IRG:
Whose police? RCMP unit acts as a private security force, critics say – The Fifth Estate (November 4, 2023)