The Wet’suwet’en First Nation has long been a steward of their unceded and sovereign territory in the interior of so-called British Columbia. Their traditional territory has never been handed over to the Canadian state, nor its corporations, and their Aboriginal title has never been extinguished across the 22,000 km2 that they continue to occupy today. The Unist’ot’en house group of the Wet’suwet’en has been reoccupying their traditional territory for the last decade, building infrastructure and developing on traditional governance as a way to heal their people and heal their land.
Nonetheless, the Wet’suwet’en now face increased militarization on their territories as a medley of private and crown corporations attempt to build the Coastal GasLink pipeline (CGL) without consent of the Wet’suwet’en people. Construction of the $6.6 billion CGL has been defended by Canadian courts as they criminalize practices of Indigenous law and governance.
Hereditary Chiefs of all five of the Wet’suwet’en clans that make up the nation have rejected the B.C. Supreme Court’s decision granting an injunction against Wet’suwet’en land defenders who have blockaded roads to stop construction of this pipeline. January 7, 2020 marks the one year anniversary of the RCMP raid of the Gidimt’en checkpoint, where 14 Wet’suwet’en members were arrested by a tactical unit brandishing automatic weapons. Now, RCMP commanders have instructed their officers to proceed with “lethal overwatch” and to use “as much violence toward the gate as you want” in advance of planned raids in 2020.
The YUGSA Executive Committee stands in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land defenders and all those who oppose the violent cycles of settler colonization. We oppose the Canadian state’s continued militarization of Indigenous law and governance, and the corporations that continue their extractive expansion without the free, prior, and informed consent of affected communities. As settlers on this land, it is our responsibility to support these movements that work to protect traditional land that we now share with Indigenous peoples.
Join us tomorrow, Jan 7 at 12pm, in the streets of Toronto as we oppose the CGL pipeline and support movements for Indigenous sovereignty.
Look out for upcoming events in Toronto in support of this international call to solidarity here.