Despite the rhetoric by politicians and corporate bosses about “reconciliation” and “respect for Indigenous rights,” the invasion of Wet’suwet’en traditional territory in north-central British Columbia by Coastal GasLink (CGL) and the RCMP continues. In the wake of the latest B.C. Supreme Court injunction prioritizing the interests of resource extraction pipelines, the Communist Party of Canada expresses our full solidarity to the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and other land defenders, and for the eviction of CGL from this traditional territory.
Canada is a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which mandates the “free, prior and informed consent” of Indigenous peoples before any economic development projects on their territories. Shamefully, the Canadian federal and provincial governments stubbornly continue to interpret these UNDRIP legal obligations in the narrowest possible manner.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has warned that projects such as the CGL pipeline to Kitimat, the Site C Dam, and the TransMountain Pipeline expansion could cause “irreparable harm to Indigenous peoples rights, culture, lands, territories and way of life.” The UN Committee says it is disturbed by the RCMP’s “harassment and intimidation” and alarmed by the “escalating threat of violence.”
This powerful statement comes after recent revelations that the RCMP was prepared to use lethal force against peaceful land defenders. On Jan. 7, 2019, the RCMP enforced an earlier interim injunction, using heavily armed officers to arrest 14 people at a gate erected by the Wet’suwet’en on the Morice River Forest Service Road, on Dark Horse Clan territories near Houston, B.C. Court documents published by the UK Guardian newspaper reported that the RCMP deployed snipers in that raid, and instructed officers to “use as much violence toward the gate as you want.”
The Wet’suwet’en eviction notice to CGL signals that governments and corporations must not be allowed to bulldoze over Indigenous lands. This is an entirely peaceful step, taken to protect Wet’suwet’en lands for future generations. As environmental groups note, the CGL pipeline would supply LNG Canada’s liquid natural gas plant in Kitimat, boosting fossil fuel emissions in British Columbia, at a time when such emissions must be cut dramatically to prevent a catastrophic trend towards global warming.
The Communist Party of Canada also rejects the phony argument that the pipeline and LNG projects have been approved by a number of elected First Nation governments. The fact is that these band councils are purely a creation of the Canadian state’s colonial-era Indian Act, with jurisdiction only over the reserve lands allocated to First Nations, not over unsurrendered traditional territories. The actions by Canadian governments and corporations such as CGL are a blatant violation of the constitutional rights of Indigenous peoples to self-determination, and we stand in full solidarity with the struggles to defend these territories. That’s why we support the demand: cops and corporations out of Wet’suwet’en traditional territory!
Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada