Members of the RCMP arrested seven individuals outside the Unist’ot’en healing centre Monday during the fifth day of enforcing a court-ordered injunction against members of the Wet’suwe’ten and their supporters blocking access to work sites for the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
Arresting land defenders, their supporters and raiding their camps is not the answer when people work to defend their rights in Canada. People have the right to peaceful protest.
The Coastal GasLink pipeline, which will run through their traditional, unceded territory has seen the land defenders at the Wet’suwet’en camps peacefully protecting the territory in support of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs. The RCMP says it is enforcing an injunction obtained by Coastal GasLink, but the justification and the legality are still in question.
The Wet’suwet’en have never ceded their land. And under Wet’suwet’en law, hereditary chiefs of five clans have authority over the nation’s 22,000 square kilometres of unceded territory. The hereditary chiefs have repeatedly opposed Coastal GasLink.
The labour movement is no stranger to seeing governments invoke laws to suppress workers’ rights. The Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs issued an eviction notice to Coastal GasLink for violating Wet’suwet’en trespassing laws, but it seems they are not entitled to the same rights as corporations.
The Wet’suwet’en people have inherent Indigenous rights and title that must be recognized and respected. Therefore, we stand in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en land defenders in their struggle and support that all parties find a peaceful resolution to the conflict.