By Max Wilbert
Featured image: solidarity actions initiated by Deep Green Resistance in Eugene, Oregon shut down multiple Chase Bank locations in the area on February 13th. Photo: Max Wilbert.
Solidarity actions in the wake of a Canadian government raid on an indigenous community resisting pipeline construction are paralyzing the Canadian economy, shutting down factories, leaving hundreds of trains idling, and leading to shortages of propane, construction materials, and grain.
Over the past week, dozens of solidarity actions have been held across Canada, as well as in the U.S. and Europe. Significant train blockades in New Hazelton and in Tyendinaga Mohawk territory have stranded tens of thousands of travelers and led CN Rail corporation to “discontinue service in key corridors.” Occupations and demonstrations have disrupted key ports, political offices, banks, and transit corridors in more than 25 Canadian cities and towns.
Coastal Gaslink Pipeline
These solidarity actions are happening around the issue of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline, or CGL. CGL is in pre-construction and is a key component of “LNG Canada,” a $40-billion project which would export “fracking” gas from Canada to international markets, running through British Columbia. The project is expected to generate 13% annual profits. It has been given billions of dollars in tax breaks and subsidies by the Canadian government.
Five clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation have opposed the CGL pipeline for over a decade. The Unist’ot’en Clan (Chief Freda Huson) and other Wet’suwet’en clans including the Gidimt’en and Likhtsamisyu have re-occupied their traditional land, built a healing center for indigenous youth, and now practice traditional medicine, hunting, gathering, & ceremonies. They have also evicted pipeline construction crews and surveyors regularly over the past five years. The pipeline is a major threat to their clean water, salmon runs, and the land which is the foundation of their culture.
Raid and Police Occupation
Last Thursday, after CGL corporation secured an illegal court injunction, Canadian federal police (RCMP) began a militarized raid on the indigenous land of the Wet’suwet’en Nation. Over the course of four days, RCMP arrested dozens of land defenders at gunpoint, including Freda Huson and Dr. Karla Tait, clinical psychologist at the Unist’ot’en Healing Center, and forcefully removed them from their land.
This is despite the 1997 “Delgamuukw” Canadian Supreme Court case which recognized title of the traditional leaders. The Canadian government, Coastal Gaslink, and funders like JP Morgan Chase (Chase Bank) are ignoring Canadian Law, indigenous law, and the danger to future generations, and are using violence to maximize their profits.
Deep Green Resistance Solidarity Action in Oregon
Deep Green Resistance stands with the Unist’ot’en. Our community has participated in solidarity actions in Canada, and this evening (February 13th) we organized disruption of three Chase Bank locations in Oregon to demand Chase cease funding the project, create additional political pressure, encourage customers of Chase to divest their funds, and to build awareness of the situation.
Led by Illahee Spirit Runners drumming to break up the humming monotony of these corporate offices, we took this action to disrupt business as usual, build strength in our community and in ourselves, and show our solidarity with the land and water defenders in Wet’suwet’en Territory. Our actions led to initiation of “lockdown procedures” at multiple Chase bank locations across the Eugene/Springfield area.
Night sky and forest overlooking the Wedzin Kwah (Morice River) at Unist’ot’en Camp. Photo by Max Wilbert.
(Note: we do not represent the Wet’suwet’en or speak on their behalf in any way, shape, or form. This is an independent, outside analysis. While we support their struggle, this does not imply that they agree with our analysis or support our strategy.)
The resistance of the five Wet’suwet’en clans to Coastal Gaslink, and to previous pipeline plans that were modified or canceled at least partially as a result of their work, has been successful thus far. This has been achieved by leveraging tactical and strategic advantages, by gathering a broad alliance of supporters, and through tenacity and hard work. Solidarity actions remain a powerful arsenal capable of causing millions or billions of dollars in economic damage to the Canadian state, and disrupting political operations. These actions can create a more favorable climate by increasing pressure on fence-sitting politicians, media, and populace, but could also backfire by empowering right-wing politicians and pro-state forces calling for increased repression.
It remains to be seen what will come next. Strategic options are relatively limited. It is clear that the pipeline company and Canadian government can and will bring force and money to bear, and with $40 billion on the line they are determined. However, they are also constrained by the court of public opinion, at least to some degree. Talk of reconciliation in Canada has created a political climate that limits the level of brutality which the government can bring to bear. However, as we have seen, they have attempted to bypass this by limiting the access of journalists, blocking people from filming, detaining and threating media with arrest, and otherwise limiting press freedoms. Grassroots people’s media has been important in partially bypassing these restrictions.
The Canadian government is unlikely to give up, and this fight may continue to be a long one. The Wet’suwet’en will not give up either. They are defending their ancestral land and the land of their children. It is unclear what the outcome will be. Broader political shifts in the Canadian government may present a large danger. Like neoliberal politicians in the U.S., the Trudeau administration’s two-faced language of reconciliation paired with violent escalation of repression and pro-industry wrangling will enable more openly conservative politicians to justify much more repressive measures. This parallels Obama’s responsibility for a massive increase in deportation and militarized repression of the uprising at Standing Rock, which in a sense paved the way for Trump’s increased escalation of racist rhetoric and policies.
More broadly, this fight is only one of countless fights globally. To reverse the existential threats of species extinction, global warming, desertification, ocean acidification, and the increasing corporate takeover, commodification, and destruction of the entire planet will require not just stopping new projects like Coastal Gaslink, but dismantling and shutting down the existing industrial infrastructure of the colonial extraction economy.
At Deep Green Resistance we believe the struggle of our time must be fundamentally revolutionary in character—that it will require the “forcible overthrow of the current social order, in favor of a new system.” Like slavery in the Antebellum south, colonialism is so deeply embedded in the Canadian and American systems that some form of warfare is likely to be necessary to uproot it. We do not believe in random acts of violence. A true revolutionary movement is built aboveground and underground, and consists of legitimate organizations coordinating struggle and seizing moments of opportunity without compromise. There are many possible ways this could play out, and we have our own ideas of what proper strategy may look like. We urge our readers to study and consider our strategy and other revolutionary strategies and historical case studies in detail, since victory will require a variety of perspectives working in parallel.