In a Facebook post one day after RCMP raided two camps on unceded Wet’suwet’en territory, the spokesperson of the Gidmit’en camp is encouraging people to either join the camps along the Morice West Forest Service Road, or take to the streets of Canada.
“We’re going to get rid of you once and for all,” said Molly Wickham in the post. “Which is what Canada has been trying to do to our people.
“It’s what the colonizers will try to do unless we stand up.”
Wickham, who goes by the traditional name Sleydo, said on the post that 55 RCMP vehicles are heading up the road towards the Unis’tot’en healing centre at the end of the road and just before the access point for the Coastal Gaslink (CGL) pipeline.
On Thursday, dozens of police vehicles along with trucks carrying heavy equipment moved up the contested road in B.C., about 1,000 km north of Vancouver.
Six people were arrested.
Media who were embedded in the camps were also threatened with arrest if they didn’t leave the area.
Support sprang up in different parts of the country. Rallies and round dances broke out in support of the Wet’suwet’en Nation.
In Ottawa, approximately 150 to 200 people marched during the lunch time hour chanting “Stand up, fight back.”
Sophia Sidarous, a Mi’kmaw land defender, was one of them.
“We’re doing this out of love for our people and not for hate of the oil and gas industry or for people who work in those industries,” she said.
Watch Jamie Pashagumskum’s story on the rally in Ottawa
It was a similar scene in Winnipeg where about 60 people showed up to show their support.
“The need for solidarity is critical, especially during a time when people from all across Canada are gathering together,” said Brielle Beardy-Linklater who organized the rally. “You have people from B.C. all the way to Newfoundland.
“It’s imperative that people band together to put an end to this so we can go back to living our lives normally so we don’t have to worry about an impending climate crisis or Indigenous people being forcibly removed from their homelands.”
Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory
As rallies of support for the Wet’suwet’en Nation take place across the country, a small group of Mohawk supporters are holding their ground along the railway tracks in their territory of Tyendinaga, two hours east of Toronto.
It’s the second day that Seth Lefort has camped out, alongside the rails.
“I felt like I needed to be with our other brothers and sisters here and stand in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en, because the RCMP are raiding within their traditional territory without Canada having any treaty relationship,” he said.
Lefort and a group of approximately six people from Tyendinaga moved a dump truck, and started a fire beside the railway tracks on Wyman road in Shannonville on Thursday morning.
As a result, Via Rail shut down one of the busiest train corridors in the country.
(A truck sits by the tracks on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. Photo courtesy: Annette Francis)
According to an email from Via Rail, 28 train departures from Ottawa, Montreal to Toronto in both directions have been cancelled due to those circumstances.
“Due to the protesters currently blocking tracks near Belleville, Ontario,” said the statement from Via.
A false statement according to Andrew Brant, who came out today to show his support.
“Traffic can still pass through, its peaceful.” It was only a couple people that came out and started a fire beside the tracks, it was actually them that decided to shut it down, it wasn’t us.”
Amanda Dale and her family joined the protestors at the site.
They drove from the Muskoka area to show their support.
“Its what we have to do sometimes to protect against oil and gas, we talk a lot with our kids about the environment and climate crisis and our responsibilities as women,” she said.
Lefort said they’re standing up for human rights and raising awareness to what’s happening with the Wet’suwet’en.
“It’s an economic imposition, its going to make people pay attention, if we were to give pamphlets out, they wouldn’t care.”
The protesters plan to stay put, until the RCMP leave Wet’suwet’en territory.
According to Via Rail the trains are prepared to leave on schedule, once they receive clearance.
256 kilometres northwest of Tyendinaga on Parliament Hill
In the House of Commons on Thursday, members of the governing Liberals were throwing their support behind B.C. Premier John Horgan and the RCMP.
The Green Party was having none of it.
“Enforcement action in Wet’suwet’en territory was another humiliating stain on Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples,” shouted Green MP Paul Manly. “The Canadian Constitution and the United Nations recognize the rights and title of indigenous people. The Supreme Court recognizes the Indigenous hereditary systems of governance. Nation-to-nation negotiations are the responsibility of this government.”
“Why has the government abandoned its duty and allowed the constitutional and legal rights of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to be violated today?
The question was directed at Public Safety Minister Bill Blair.
“Reconciliation is a crucial priority for our government and we are committed to renewing our relationship with Indigenous people,” Blair told the house. “We will continue with the necessary work of building partnerships, which is based on rights, respect and cooperation. The commissioner of the RCMP is mandated to lead in the support of that site in a way that supports reconciliation and we will continue to protect the constitutional rights to peaceful protest. RCMP officers are and have been in regular communication with the Wet’suwet’en elected councils and hereditary chiefs, as well as the protestors to promote a constructive dialogue aimed at peaceful resolutions.”
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer attacked the government on a different pipeline, the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project for the Liberal plan to implement the UN Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
“A United Nations declaration (UNDRIP) that the Liberal government is planning on proposing will in fact require free, prior and informed consent and will give one group that does not want to proceed with a project an effective veto. Will the Liberals abandon their plans to implement this UN resolution?
Justice Minister David Lametti said the government plans on introducing UNDRIP as legislation before the end of 2020 and added that free, prior and informed consent doesn’t add up to a veto.
“Implementing UNDRIP is a priority for this government. Free, prior and informed consent is one of the key provisions of that. I would ask that the leader of the opposition look at what has happened with Bill 41 in British Columbia with the implementation of UNDRIP and in which free, prior and informed consent is not considered to be a veto.”
The situation on the Wet’suwet’en Nation did not come up Friday during question period.
None of the Cabinet Ministers speaking on the issue would challenge how the situation was being handled except to say that it is a “complex matter,” and that reconciliation is still a priority with the government.
With files from Jamie Pashagumskum in Ottawa, Darrell Stranger in Winnipeg and Annette Francis on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.