Media release

Press release: Supporters of Wet’suwet’en land defenders gather in Halifax to disrupt visit by Deputy PM in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land defenders

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K’jipuktuk / Halifax: On February 12th at 2pm, Haligonians gathered to disrupt the visit of Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland at the Office of the Premier (1700 Granville Street), in solidarity with Wet’suwe’ten land defenders resisting the Coastal Gaslink (CGL) pipeline project. Freeland met with Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil today. 

Just yesterday, 150 water protectors and community members blocked access to the Halifax container terminal in another solidarity action. On February 7th, supporters of the Wet’suwe’ten land defenders also staged a sit-in at MP Andy Fillmore’s office and rally in front of the RCMP office. 

This week, there are over 100 solidarity actions happening throughout the country responding to a call made by Gidimt’en checkpoint spokesperson Molly Wickham to #ShutDownCanada. Supporters have either blocked or occupied ports, bridges, rails, government offices and roads throughout Canada in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en people and their assertion of sovereignty. 

For five days, Indigenous youth, as well as other supporters of the Wet’suwe’ten land defenders held an encampment on the steps of the B.C. legislature. Yesterday, they blocked the entrance to the B.C. legislature ahead of the throne speech. On Monday, supporters occupied the constituency office of Liberal MP Carolyn Bennet, the federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations in Toronto, as well as the Ministry of Justice building in Ottawa. 

The RCMP began enforcing an injunction in support of the CGL pipeline project on February 6th. The RCMP violently raided two camps, as well as the Unist’ot’en village, which are on unceded Wet’suwet’en territory. 

On Monday, heavily armed RCMP equipped with attack dogs and sound cannons raided the Unist’ot’en village, an off-grid community and home to the Unist’ot’en Healing Centre. It has been the center of Wet’suwet’en resistance to pipelines for a decade, and an inspirational site of decolonization and healing. Wet’suwe’ten matriarchs and land defenders were arrested while in ceremony honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. 

To date, approximately 80 land defenders and legal observers have been arrested at the camps, as well as in solidarity actions throughout the country. 

Meanwhile, the RCMP has also been denounced by groups such as the Canadian Association of Journalists for blocking media access.

Background: 

The five clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation and their hereditary chiefs have rejected all pipeline proposals, including the the Coastal Gaslink (GCL) pipeline project, asserting their sovereignty on unceded territory. 

The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs maintain that CGL does not have free, prior and informed consent to operate in their territory. 

Canada’s courts have acknowledged in Delgamuukw-Gisdaywa v. The Queen that the Wet’suwet’en people, represented by their hereditary chiefs, have never ceded nor surrendered title to the 22,000km2 of Wet’suwet’en territory. Recently over three dozen lawyers, legal experts, and law professors issued an open letter affirming this interpretation, and asserting that this issue “goes to the core of the relationship between the Crown and Indigenous Peoples and the obligations that arise therefrom.”

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