The Wet’suwet’en resistance to the Coastal GasLink Pipeline needs your support right now.
Content Warning: This article contains graphic descriptions of police and colonial violence.
As the new year begins, little has changed for Wet’suwet’en land defenders safeguarding their homelands from the Coastal GasLink pipeline and their people from brutality at the hands of militarized Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). In this beautiful place near their sacred headwaters, Wedzin Kwa, the helicopters continue to fly by even on the quiet days between raids, scaring off game and sending a clear and threatening message. And, so, once again, those on the front lines are preparing for the worst.
For the past few years, violent police raids against Indigenous populations — like the Wet’suwet’en in co-called British Columbia, the Standing Rock Nation in the Dakotas, and the Anishinaabe People in Minnesota — have become standard procedure. Law enforcement is always there to protect prospective pipeline profits for the fossil fuel industry.
In an era when climate-driven wildfires continue to ravage the western coasts of Turtle Island, as increasingly frequent and powerful storms destroy communities, ruin lives, and sound a critical warning bell about our future, militarized law enforcement is consistently given the green light to brutalize those standing up to protect Unci Maka, our Grandmother Earth.
That’s why it’s absolutely critical — right now! — that we act in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en People. Please use this form to email the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). Tell this international oversight body to take immediate action. Demand that hereditary chiefs determine what happens on their own lands and an immediate end to the human rights violations against the Wet’suwet’en People. Police violence against unarmed land protectors must stop. The sovereignty of Indigenous People must be respected. New gas and oil pipelines have no place In a world hanging on the brink of climate collapse.
In late November, the RCMP conducted their most recent round of militarized raids against land protectors at Gidimt’en Checkpoint, a resistance camp set up to block TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink pipeline from accessing the Wet’suwet’en yintah — the nation’s traditional homelands.
Shocking images of assault rifles being pointed at unarmed Indigenous women and doors being hacked down circulated widely, as did reports of humiliating treatment, violent arrests, and abuse by the RCMP. A convoy of more than 35 RMCP vehicles including two buses and holding an estimated 60-100 militarized police troops, their K9 units, and assault weapons ensured the forcible destruction. An elder was reported struck by a vehicle in a crosswalk and left to languish, and at least two press people were arrested.
As at Standing Rock during the Dakota Access pipeline protests during 2016 and 2017, the raids and police actions were conducted to make way for a pipeline that Indigenous land defenders — whose ancestors have lived in the area for centuries — oppose. Should it be completed, the Coastal GasLink pipeline will connect gas fields in northern British Columbia with the Kitimat terminal on the coast, which — at $40 billion — represents the largest private sector investment in Canada’s history.
The recent violent raids on sovereign Wet’suwet’en territory, the acceleration of arrests and legal battles targeting land and water defenders across Turtle Island, and laws designed to limit protest should make it absolutely clear we are in a critical moment. The time to show our solidarity and support is right now.
In an effort to strike at the root of the problem, on October 19, 2021, the Gidimt’en Checkpoint issued a letter to over 35 Coastal GasLink investors and banks in Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States demanding divestment of financial support from this toxic pipeline project. Focusing on the largest contributors to the pipelines, such as the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. of the United States, the letter details violations of Indigenous rights and calls for investor commitments to racial justice, reconciliation, and social responsibility.
Over the past five years, the RBC and Canada’s other four largest banks have invested nearly $200 Billion into the Coastal GasLink project. Despite the movement calling on them to cease supporting destructive fossil fuel investment, the banks have ignored concerns and refused accountability. An unsigned response letter from RBC, received on Nov. 8, 2021 by Gidimt’en Checkpoint leadership, claims the bank believes meaningful consultation had occurred in the affected communities, including some Indigenous communities. RBC stated that their website contains a statement on human rights proving their respect toward Indigenous People.
Land defenders like Freda Huson and Eve Saint — both of whom have been on the frontlines of the battle against pipelines for years — point out that hereditary chiefs recognized as having a government that precedes Canada’s own have not ceded their lands. The hereditary chief system was, in fact, previously upheld by the Canadian Supreme Court as the only legitimate governance system and only legal title holders of the land. And according to The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the corresponding tenants of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), Coastal GasLink was required to consult with and gain the consent of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs — but that never happened.
"The Supreme Court established that Wet'suwet'en had never extinguished title to our territories," Molly Wickham, a governance director at the Office of the Wet'suwet'en, said on CBC's The Early Edition. "Within Western law, they have acknowledged that we still have title to our territories — and this is an issue about title."
The violent occupation of Wet’suwet’en territory violates both Canadian law and international law. But the ramifications of this occupation are larger, even, than that. Indigenous stewardship isn’t just legally mandated in Canada, it’s necessary for the survival of planet Earth. In order to arrest the climate emergency, we must stop arresting — and start listening to — the Indigenous People standing up for the environment.
“We don’t need any more pipelines,” Saint said in a Dec. 14 online presentation organized by Stop The Money Pipeline. “They want to make Wet'suwet'en land an energy corridor …. We need to support Wet’suwet’en land defenders who are throwing down and putting their lives on the line; they do this for the good of humanity and the next seven generations.”
Please act right now to help create a healthy future for our world and justice for the Wet'suwet'en People. Email the United Nations: tell them to end the human rights abuses on Wet'suwet'en land and demand that their hereditary right to that land be respected. Let them know the world is watching.
Colonizing governments like so-called Canada must seek FPIC from those whose lands they illegally occupy. No more ramming pipelines through Indigenous homelands, and no tolerance for the violent actions of the RCMP against the Wet'suwet'en. Show your solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en and every Indigenous land defender and water protector who has ever stood to protect our planet and all her children — past, present, and future.
For more information on how to support direct actions, donate directly to the Wet’suwet’en, and more, visit https://www.yintahaccess.com.
You can also follow these social media accounts:
Facebook: Gidimt’en Checkpoint
Please support this important movement in any way you can, and please stay tuned. We will bring you further updates and information as it becomes available.