Just Peace Advocates expresses our strong solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en people’s struggle to defend their territory from Canadian settler colonialism and the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
We denounce what is the reflection of Canada’s own apartheid system.
On November 14th a Mandatory Evacuation Order issued by the Gidimt’en Clan to workers of Coastal GasLink. This Order upholds ancient Wet’suwet’en trespass laws and an eviction notice that was first served in 2020 to Coastal GasLink by the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs. Reports have subsequently emerged indicating Coastal GasLink did not actually inform their workers of the opportunity to evacuate.
On November 18th the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) stormed the Gidimt’en camp on the Wedzin Kwa (Morice) River, and arrested land and water defenders as well as journalists who were covering the Gidimt’en eviction of Coastal GasLink.
Arrests have included Sleydo’ Molly Wickham, a spokesperson for the Gidimt’en checkpoint, as was Jocey Alec, daughter of Hereditary Dini ze’ (Chief) Woos and 13 others which included journalists Amber Bracken and Michael Toledano.
On November 19th, the RCMP stormed the homes and cabins set up by unarmed Indigenous women with canine units and snipers, breaking down the door to a Tiny House with an axe.
The action of the Canadian government and the RCMP should not come as a surprise to the Canadian government.
The Indian Act of 1876 is not only the centrepiece of Canadian colonial policy towards Indigenous peoples, but it has been the blueprint for apartheid in South Africa and Israel.
The South African government inspired by Canada’s Indian Act and legal classification of “status Indians” examined Canada’s Indian reserve system and used this in modelling aspects of South African apartheid after the Canadian system.
Canada enacted the pass system in 1885 which required approvals from local Indian agents for indigenous people to leave their reserves and served as a form of control against resistance. This model of restricting the basic human right of mobility for indigenous has served as a blueprint for the Israeli permit system. Israel has mirrored Canada’s use of never-ending negotiations as a deliberate stalling tactic and a means of control of indigenous lands and resources. Canada has its own interest in ensuring that Israel retains impunity including by not recognizing Palestine’s accession to international treaties, including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
The RCMP (North West Mounted Police) were created in the first place “enforce” this apartheid through harassment and intimidation of the indigenous population, and continue to play this role for the colonizer government and business interests.
The Canadian government deferred a legal complaint in regard to illegal Israeli military recruiting to the RCMP in November 2020, and despite thousands of letters the RCMP and Canadian government have remained silent in this regard.
We urge action and solidarity to free detained land defenders and break the RCMP siege of Indigenous land. We stand in solidarity with all Indigenous struggles for liberation, sovereignty and self-determination in the face of settler colonialism, we salute Indigenous resistance, and we demand the immediate release of Sleydo’ Molly Wickham and all detained land defenders and journalists.
The government’s treatment of Indigenous civil and human rights continues to demonstrate a racist hypocrisy that should shame all Canadians.
Just Peace Advocates salutes Indigenous peoples’ struggle and ongoing resistance and unceasing defense of their land and people.
We also call for action to be taken in regard to those financing the pipeline including Royal Bank of Canada. Over the last few weeks, close to 6,000 letters have been sent to the Royal Bank of Canada in regard to its investment in Palantir, an artifical intelligence company providing data for survellience of Palestinians, at the US-Mexico Borader and in other contexts.
Chief Woos has said “I do not see any reconciliation in this. For our brothers and sisters of all Indigenous organizations, let this be a sign that reconciliation in their eyes is really the White Paper in disguise.”
Note that Canada’s own definition on Global Affairs Canada Voices at Risk: Canada’s Guidelines on Supporting Human Rights Defenders says:
A land rights defender takes peaceful action to protect the land of a group of people. Environmental HRDs strive for the realisation of the rights and fundamental freedoms as they relate to the enjoyment of a safe, healthy and sustainable environment. They often focus on the large-scale industrial activities of private or public corporations in rural areas. Defenders may face heightened risk of violence or repression because of their work, particularly if they are members of vulnerable or disadvantaged groups such as women, Indigenous peoples, LGBTI persons, persons with disabilities and economically marginalized people.
“In many cases, failure to investigate and prosecute threats or attacks against land or environmental defenders can create a climate of impunity, which can lead to further attacks. In some contexts, peaceful dissent may be misrepresented by government, private sector or media organizations as a threat to national security, economic interests or as unpatriotic activity, which can increase risks of violence. “
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be remembered for being on the wrong side of history with his government’s supremacist and racist legacies.
The Wet’suwet’en continue to call on solidarity actions to take place. We encourage people from across Turtle Island to join in actions of solidarity.
For more information, follow the Gidimt’en social media accounts: