(February 20, 2020) – Almost 30,000 Canadians across the country have united by signing an online petition – Solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en nation 2020 – started by Indigenous Solidarity Ottawa. Canadians signed in support of members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation who have been “stewarding and protecting their traditional territories from the destruction of multiple pipelines”, including Coastal GasLink’s (CGL) liquified natural gas (LNG) pipeline.
The petition addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, John Horgan, Premiere of B.C., and Mike Farnworth, B.C. Public Safety Minister asks that the following demands are met:
- Stop colonial violence: stop using the RCMP or any other force to harass and criminalize Indigenous peoples from protecting their land, water, air and cultures, as well as dispossess Indigenous peoples of their traditional unceded territories;
- Immediately remove the RCMP from the Wet’suwet’en territory;
- Respect the sovereignty as well as the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous peoples as stated in the UN Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples – which Canada has signed and BC has put into provincial law – which includes respecting the refusal of pipelines and other resource-extracting projects that are damaging to the environment and for which the Wet’suwet’en nation have not given free, prior and informed consent to;
- Stop violently supporting those members of the 1% who are stealing resources and condemning our children to a world rendered uninhabitable by climate change.
The concerns for safety addressed in this petition are widespread. Video footage of an RCMP officer pointing his firearm at Indigenous land defenders was posted to the social media account of the Gidimt’en clan (one of five clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation whose hereditary chiefs oppose the pipeline). It shows police moving into the clan’s camp on the Morice West Forest Service Road near Houston, B.C. on February 7. The RCMP defended the actions of their officers.
RCMP also arrested 28 land defenders and matriarchs during the enforcement of the interlocatory injunction approved by Justice Church. One person remains in custody. Charges are pending as CGL has requested Crown intervention. The rest of the land defenders are to appear before the Supreme Court in Prince George in late April 2020.
In his address to Parliament on Tuesday, Trudeau described the situation as “a critical moment for our country and for our future.” Trudeau says his government remains open to discussions. He has said that he will not forcibly remove the blockades, but economic pressure builds.
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde, who joined other First Nations leaders in Ottawa on Tuesday, said “Our people are taking action because they want to see action. When they see positive action by the key players, when they see a commitment to real dialogue to address this difficult situation, people will respond in a positive way.”
The below quotes are from petition signers across the country:
“RCMP invasion of Indigenous territory is wrong on every level, not to mention embarrassing. The RCMP is helping a foreign fossil fuel consortium build a pipeline to transport the very fuel whose extraction is ruining northern ecology and ultimately, our water supplies. The RCMP is protecting one of the most damaging industries on the planet.” – Carole Tootil, Nanaimo, BC
“Time to abide by the law and find another route, even if it costs more money. A mistake was made by not honouring the original land rights and only going to band councils. Time to fix it and not continue the mistakes of the past.” – Raisa Jari, Toronto, ON
“I am Wet’suwet’en and after 150 years enough is enough! My child and my family use this land for cultural activities and everyone made this decision except us. We can’t even return there anymore. By the time they have left their construction zone in their wake my boy will be a young teen. The rest of his childhood will be displaced from our favourite and most loved places. Not to mention the issues of climate change.” – Carla Lewis, Burns Lake, BC
“I’m in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en nation and other land protectors. Stop extracting and fracking, stop building pipelines and invest in alternative energy projects, and involve First Nations in that pursuit.” – Dr. Thilo Joerger, Sackville, NB
“I feel the Wet’suwet’en people are protecting land that is rightfully theirs.” – Doreen Mason, Windermere, ON
“There is so much injustice in the provincial government and Coastal gas not considering the Wet’suwet’en proposal for an alternate route and sending in the RCMP to unlawfully occupy their land. They should have the right of all nations to have consent to use their territory as they wish and not suffer violence and externally imposed laws forced upon them.” – Fiona Lee, Vancouver, BC
“Canadians are standing up for what they want. This is not going away. Canada, let all voices be heard.” – Jane Rathbun, Waverley, NS
Anne Dagenais, Settler, Member of Indigenous Solidarity Ottawa is available for interviews.
For more information please see: https://www.change.org/wet-suwet-en