Indigenous Environmental Network
As Wet'suwet'en members of Cas Yikh and their supporters maintain control of a Coastal GasLink drill site that threatens their unceded territories, the RCMP has utilized excessive use of force and torturous pain compliance for an hour on a land defender. This happened as the “National Day of Truth and Reconciliation” took place across Canada yesterday, putting on full display the ongoing colonialism that Indigenous peoples are facing.
These actions follow an earlier arrest on the morning on September 25, a supporter was tasered and arrested on the road to the drill pad site where Coastal GasLink plans to drill under Wedzin Kwa river. In a video, the supporter’s screams for help are audible during the violent arrest.
In addition, Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs were denied access to their own lands and threatened with arrest, but they held their ground. Cas Yikh members of the Wet'suwet'en nation and their supporters are still holding strong in opposition to this destruction and violence.
Sleydo’, Gidimt’en Checkpoint Spokesperson, states “On the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, reconciliation is dead. The government, industry, and police are still invading our yintah. The authority of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary house and clan system was verified in the historic Delgamuukw and Red Top court decisions, but our hereditary system continues to be disrespected by BC and Canada."
Under ‘Anuc niwh’it’en (Wet’suwet’en law) all Hereditary Chiefs of the five clans of the Wet’suwet’en have unanimously opposed all pipeline proposals and have not provided free, prior, and informed consent to Coastal Gaslink to drill on Wet’suwet’en lands.
Sleydo’ further states, “Coastal GasLink (CGL) is the one trespassing on our yintah with their plans for a 670-kilometer fracked gas pipeline. They are trying to drill under the Wedzin Kwa river, the sacred headwaters that feeds all of Wet’suwet’en territory and gives life to our nation. Days ago, Coastal GasLink destroyed our ancient village and cultural heritage site, Ts’elkay Kwe. We refuse to allow this destruction to continue and are now blockading Coastal GasLink. Our Chiefs – not Coastal GasLink or Canada – have full jurisdiction on our yintah.”
If any true reconciliation is to be achieved all levels of government must honour the authority of Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs. The public must be made aware of the lengths to which the government and industry will go to suppress our rights and title. This has always been a fight for access to resources, as brought to light by the Narwhal last year. We have always known this to be the case, and through the exposure there is proof of the provincial governments’ plan to use federal money meant for Residential School Survivors, because they know how strong that decision was.
According to Sleydo’: “The world is on the brink of climate catastrophe and all people must rise up to protect what little is left for future generations. We invite supporters to come to Cas Yikh territory and stand with us. We raise our hands to the brave people at Ada’itsx (Fairy Creek), who have just defeated Teal Cedar Products Ltd.’s injunction. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) are using the same violent tactics to intimidate and criminalize peaceful land defenders here. We are united in the struggle to defend our lands, our waters, our homes.”
Over 1,100 people were arrested at Fairy Creek, all for the immoral enforcement of an injunction to allow a company to log old-growth forests. Justice Douglas Thompson found that Royal Canadian Mounted Police enforcement, through the use of the specially formed Community Industry Response Group (CIRG), led to “serious and substantial infringement of civil liberties''. It is concerning that Community Industry Response Group, who had previously been unlawfully occupying Wet’suwet’en territory and harassing Wet’suwet’en people, may now turn its sights from Ada’itsx back to Wet’suwet’en territories.
As the rest of the nation wore orange shirts, the Wet’suwet’en people upheld our laws and enacted our title and rights out on the yintah, protecting Wedzin Kwa.
About Indigenous Environmental Network
Established in 1990, the Indigenous Environmental Network is an international environmental justice nonprofit that works with tribal grassroots organizations to build the capacity of Indigenous communities. Indigenous Environmental Network’s activities include empowering Indigenous communities and tribal governments to develop mechanisms to protect our sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, the health of both our people and all living things, and to build economically sustainable communities.
Learn more here: ienearth.org