The Indigenous Environmental Network condemns the actions of Canada as it inflicts settler violence against the Wet’suwet’en peoples, hypocritically breaking both Wet’suwet’en and Canadian law to push TC Energy’s illegal Coastal Gaslink pipeline through unceded territories.
By entering sovereign Wet’suwet’en territory with RCMP, dogs and assault rifles we are witnessing state-sanctioned violence on behalf of an Oil company, and such barbarous acts of violence inflicted upon Indigenous peoples cannot be defended. These attacks by RCMP are nothing less than Human Rights violations as defined by the United Nations, and acts of extreme detriment to the inherent sovereignty of the Wet’suwet’en. The Wet’suwet’en have asserted self-governance over their territories since time immemorial, and it is their inherent right to defend their lands, resources and bodies from foreign aggressors. They have signed no treaties nor have they relinquished title to their lands. They are not part of so-called Canada and have not consented to bearing the burden of the world’s dependence on an extractive industry such as oil.
We will continue to support the Wet’suwet’en in their struggle and call on others to join us in supporting our relatives. From disrupting business as usual to divesting from banks funding the theft of Indigenous lands, there are steps we can all take to stand with our relatives. These barbarous acts of violent aggression must cease and the inherent right to self determination must be upheld.
How You Can Help:
Over the past two days heavily militarized RCMP tactical team have descending on Coyote Camp with snipers, assault rifles, and K9 units,
In total, eleven people were arrested at Coyote Camp, including Gidimt’en Checkpoint spokesperson, Sleydo’, and Dinï’ze Woos’ daughter, Jocey. Four more were arrested at 44km later that day, including Sleydo’s husband, Cody.
Solidarity actions began immediately. Now is the time. Plan, organize or join an action where you are.
Issue a solidarity statement from your organization or group and tag us.
The Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs represent a governance system that predates colonization and the Indian Act which was created in an attempt to outlaw Indigenous peoples from their lands.
The Wet’suwet’en have continued to exercise their unbroken, unextinguished, and unceded right to govern and occupy their lands by continuing and empowering the clan-based governance system to this day. Under Wet’suwet’en law, clans have a responsibility and right to control access to their territories.
The validity of the Wet’suwet’en house and clan system was verified in the Delgamuukw and Red Top Decisions that uphold the authority of the hereditary system on Wet’suwet’en traditional territories.
At this very moment a standoff is unfolding, the outcome of which will determine the future of Northern “BC” for generations to come. Will the entire region be overtaken by the fracking industry, or will Indigenous people asserting their sovereignty be successful in repelling the assault on their homelands?
The future is unwritten. What comes next will be greatly influenced by actions taken in the coming days and weeks. This is a long-term struggle, but it is at a critical moment. That is why we say: The Time is Now. If you are a person of conscience and you understand the magnitude of what is at stake, ask yourself how you might best support the grassroots Wet’suwet’en.
WET’SUWET’EN TERRITORY, SMITHERS, BC: Twenty people who were arrested in a two-day violent raid on Wet’suwet’en territory are appearing at BC Supreme Court in Prince George today at 11 am. Those arrested include Gidimt’en Checkpoint spokesperson Sleydo’ and Dinï ze’ Woos’s daughter Jocelyn Alec, as well as two journalists.
Those arrested are all facing charges of civil contempt for breaching the terms of a BC Supreme Court injunction granted to Coastal GasLink (CGL). CGL is seeking a number of conditions of release, including denying many arrestees access to a vast area of Wet’suwet’en territories. The proposed ‘exclusion zone’ is the whole Morice West Forest Service Road or any other areas accessed by the Morice Forest Service Road. Wet’suwet’en people (as determined by CGL) may be exempt from the exclusion zone for “cultural activities” (as defined by the RCMP), while being subjected to ‘culture-free zones’ around CGL work sites.
CGL is also asking Sleydo’ to provide documentation to “prove” she is Wet’suwet’en, and is seeking conditions that would bar her from returning to her home on Wet’suwet’en Yintah where her, her husband Cody Merriman (Haida nation, who was also arrested), and her three children live. CGL is also challenging Chief Woos’s daughter Jocelyn Alec’s status as a Wet’suwet’en person because she has Indian Act status with her mother’s First Nation. The Indian Act is patriarchal and does not determine identity or belonging to a community.
According to Jen Wickham, media coordinator of Gidimt’en Checkpoint: “Coastal GasLink’s proposed conditions of release are punitive, unreasonable and, in targeting Sleydo’ and Jocelyn, completely racist and sexist. Allowing a private corporation to determine two Indigenous womens’ identities and allowing this corporation to deny our inherent rights to be Wet’suwet’en on our territory is a very dangerous precedent. This is the colonial gendered violence that is the root of the crisis of MMIWG2S. Even though Coastal GasLink is trying to intimidate us through the colonial court system, we are Wet’suwet’en Strong. Under the governance of our Hereditary Chiefs, there will be no pipeline on our Yintah.”
In granting an injunction to Coastal GasLink, Justice Church recognized that the Wet’suwet’en are “posing significant constitutional questions” but said that “this is not the venue for that analysis.” However, the 1997 Supreme Court of Canada Delgamuukw-Gisdaywa ruling clearly affirmed that Aboriginal title – the right to exclusively use and occupy land – has never been extinguished across 55,000 square kilometers of Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan territories.
States Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs: “Industry’s reliance on the racist and oppressive legal weapon of injunctions is a way to maintain the continued dispossession and criminalization of Indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples should not have to comply with industry and government decisions that deny our Indigenous rights. By dragging us through court and using injunctions against us, our Indigenous rights are being violated and are given less consideration than climate-destroying corporations. We are calling for the release of all Wet’suwet’en land defenders, and for BC and Canada to uphold Indigenous Title and Rights and institute a moratorium on fossil fuel expansion in the wake of clear and present climate catastrophe – including LNG which is not clean energy and is a non-renewable fossil fuel.”
This morning, members of the Gidimt’en Clan evicted Coastal GasLink (CGL) employees from unceded Wet’suwet’en territory, upholding ancient Wet’suwet’en trespass laws and an eviction notice first served to CGL in 2020 by the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs.
Employees were granted 8 hours to peacefully evacuate the area, before the main road into the Lhudis Bin territory of the Gidimt’en clan was closed.
Sleydo’, Gidimt’en spokesperson, commented on the eviction enforcement:
“The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have never ceded, surrendered, or lost in war, title to this territory. That means that what they say goes. The eviction order from January 4th, 2020 says that CGL has to remove themselves from the territory and not return. They have been violating this law for too long.”
Today also marks Day 50 of the establishment of Coyote Camp, where Gidimt’en members, under the direction of Chief Woos, have reoccupied Cas Yikh territory and succesfully blocked Coastal Gaslink’s efforts to drill beneath Wet’suwet’en Headwaters.
In early 2020, Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs from all five clans of the nation issued and enforced an eviction notice against CGL, sparking nationwide solidarity protests and paralyzing pipeline work throughout Wet’suwet’en land.
Today, November 14, 2021, the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs’ eviction was again enforced.
The 1997 Supreme Court of Canada ruling in the Delgamuukw-Gisdaywa court case affirmed that Aboriginal title – the right to exclusively use and occupy land – has never been extinguished across 55,000km2 of Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan territories. Despite this, in 2019 and again in 2020, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have trespassed onto Wet’suwet’en territory and undertaken a series of militarized assaults, enacting violent arrests and following the orders of fossil fuel behemoth TC Energy.
“Wetlands have been destroyed. Our animals have been sick. We need to protect what is left for all the future generations. Wet’suwet’en law pre-dates Colonial Law. It has existed since time began in our territories, and we have that same fighting spirit that our ancestors fought so hard to keep alive in us so that we would be able to defend our future generations, this land and this water.”
Editor’s note: Premise One: Civilization is not and can never be sustainable. This is especially true for industrial civilization. Premise Two: Traditional communities do not often voluntarily give up or sell the resources on which their communities are based until their communities have been destroyed. They also do not willingly allow their landbases to be damaged so that other resources—gold, oil, and so on—can be extracted. It follows that those who want the resources will do what they can to destroy traditional communities. Premise Three: Our way of living—industrial civilization—is based on, requires, and would collapse very quickly without persistent and widespread violence.
Derrick Jensen (2006): Endgame vol. 1, p. IX
SMITHERS, BC: On the morning of September 25, 2021, the access road to Coastal GasLink’s (CGL’s) drill site at the Wedzin Kwa river was destroyed. Blockades have been set up and sites have been occupied, to stop the drilling under the sacred headwaters that nourish the Wet’suwet’en Yintah and all those within its catchment area. Cas Yikh and supporters have gained control of the area and refuse to allow this destruction to continue.
Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs were denied access to their own lands, and there has been one arrest confirmed. The Hereditary Chiefs were read the injunction and threatened with arrest, but they held their ground. Despite heavy machinery and heavy RCMP presence, our relatives and supporters are standing strong holding the line, and so far no more arrests have been confirmed. As of Sunday, September 26, the individual arrested has been released and the chiefs and supporters continue to hold the line and successfully hold off any work by CGL.
Days ago, CGL destroyed our ancient village site, Ts’elkay Kwe. When Gidimt’en Checkpoint spokesperson Sleydo’ attempted to monitor the CGL archaeological team and contest the destruction of Wet’suwet’en cultural heritage, she was aggressively intimidated by CGL security guards. Tensions have continued to rise on the Yintah as CGL pushes a reckless and destructive construction schedule with the support of private security and the RCMP.
Now, CGL is ready to begin drilling beneath our sacred headwaters, Wedzin Kwa. We know that this would be disastrous, not only for Wet’suwet’en people, but for all living beings supported by the Wedzin Kwa, and for the communities living downstream. Wedzin Kwa is a spawning ground for salmon and a critical source of pristine drinking water. States Sleydo’, Gidimt’en Checkpoint Spokesperson:
“Our way of life is at risk. […] Wedzin Kwa [is the] the river that feeds all of Wet’suwet’en territory and gives life to our nation.”
Coastal Gaslink has been evicted from our territories by the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs who have full jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en lands. Coastal GasLink is pushing through a 670-kilometer fracked gas pipeline, but under ‘Anuc niwh’it’en (Wet’suwet’en law) all 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 do work on Wet’suwet’en lands.
As Coastal GasLink continues to trespass, we will do everything in our power to protect our waters and to uphold our laws. Gidimt’en Checkpoint has issued a call for support, asking people to travel to Cas Yikh territory to stand with them.
For further information please go to: yintahaccess.com
Media backgrounder here
Photo Credit: Michael Toledano
Jennifer Wickham, Gidimt’en Checkpoint Media Coordinator
Phone number: 778-210-0067
BREAKING: Wet’suwet’en Women Occupy Pipeline Drillsite To Stop CGL from Drilling Beneath Their Sacred Headwaters
As Coastal GasLink attempts to destroy our homelands, we are surveilled, harassed, and criminalized even when we pray for our yintah.
Our rights are being trampled and our future is at risk. We ask our supporters to again stand with us and to take action, as Coastal GasLink is now days away from test drilling at our sacred headwaters .
The time is now to fight with all we have against this colonial invasion.
Indigenous Women Hold Ceremony at Pipeline Drill Site
Coastal GasLink has called in the RCMP to try and remove Wet’suwet’en community members and Indigenous youth as they hold a ceremony at a proposed drill site for Coastal Gaslink’s pipeline. Coastal Gaslink has been evicted from our territories by the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs – who have full jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en lands. As CGL continues to trespass, we will do everything in our power to protect our waters and to uphold our laws.
We will not let CGL break our Wet’suwet’en laws and drill under the headwaters of the Wedzin Kwa river, which nourishes all of Wet’suwet’en territory. The standoff is ongoing. We call for solidarity actions from coast to coast. Take action where you stand, or come stand with us on the yintah.