Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Tuesday Link List - Unist'ot'en

One week ago the RCMP enforced a temporary injunction issued by the Supreme Court of BC, and dismantled a checkpoint erected by the Unist'ot'en clan of the Wet'suwet'en nation on their unceded Gidimt'en territory to prevent access by pipeline workers. This camp and blockade have been in existence (in some shape or form) for about 10 years. 14 Land Defenders were arrested (all have since been released), and the RCMP set up "exclusion zones" that prevented access by the press and public to document the raid. I have been following this story as closely as I can, both from an environmental perspective and as it specifically relates to Canada's ongoing relationship with First Nations.

I wanted to share some resources here that I have found helpful.

The Tyee is a great independent source for news in BC. They has published a few articles about the Unist'ot'en camp and what's happening with the GasLink pipeline blockade right now and in recent history, like:

A lot of the comments I've been reading about the Unist'ot'en checkpoint show a real lack of understanding on the part of settler-Canadians about how Indigenous and First Nations govern. This article from an indigenous reporter at the CBC offers some insight on that topic.
When Pipeline companies want to build on Indigenous lands, with whom do they consult?

The Unist'ot'en Camp has been expanding every year for the past few years. One of the reasons they occupy this area so purposefully is to exercise their rights to live on their unceded territory.

People arrested at Gidimt'en anti-pipeline camp allege inappropriate use of force
The Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs reached a compromise with the RCMP last week to allow pipeline workers access to the area, stating that they did so over concerns of their people's safety. I have seen video from the initial incident. It was really hard to watch.

Here is another article detailing - quite extensively - what happened that day, although it does imply that everything is sorted now, when there were still RCMP officers on site and a media ban only a few days ago.
What you haven't heard from inside the battle Gidimt'en checkpoint

There were very few direct statements made by any members of Canadian government during the event. The only one I could find was very "both sides":
Nathan Cullen issues statement on Wet'suwet'en blockade

And the comments and statements I have seen since do not directly defend the actions of the First Nations people involved, or stand up for the rights, but once again throw their support behind oil and gas. There were some questions about who should respond, as the injunction came from a BC court, but First Nations are a federal mandate, and to be honest, I expected more from both the provincial and federal leaders.

Canada is a signatory of UNDRIP, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, which even though is unbinding on the signatories, signing it was meant to signal a renewed commitment to working with the indigenous peoples who live "within Canada". For many, this seems to be another case of Canada doing something to look good on the international stage, but not following through on the home front.

Sean Carleton has an excellent thread on Twitter (read the unroll here) with the history of the RCMP in Canada and how they were initially created to suppress Indigenous resistance to colonialism and capitalist expansion. And that part of their job has never stopped.

There have been actions in solidarity happening all across Canada for the past week. The RCMP continue to occupy this site and deny Wet'suwet'en people access to their camp and their lands.

I have read so much on this over the past week, that I have lost track of many helpful articles. This is part of a larger picture, and I have been putting the pieces in place - for myself - for years and I am determined to let it all direct my activism this year.


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