On Monday, January 7th the RCMP and the office of Canada’s Prime Minister, began enforcing a Supreme Court injunction and started an invasion of the sovereign territory of the Gitdumt’en and Unist’ot’en Clans of the Wet’suwet’en nation, located in the north-central part of so-called British Columbia. The RCMP is a paramilitary organization that was founded just after Canada’s confederation in order to repress Indigenous nationhood, and which Canada calls on in order to undermine Indigenous claims to land and title – often enforcing government-ordered court injunctions – in the interests of settler colonial property relations, the domination of the Canadian Crown, and the profit of capitalist corporations. In the words of Gitdumt’en chiefs at the checkpoint on the Morice Valley road, the RCMP invasion was an “act of war” by Canada against the Wet’suwet’en.
Hours before beginning their invasion, the RCMP released a statement declaring that they will be enforcing the court injunction to give Coastal GasLink access to Unist’ot’en territory to begin construction of the fracked gas pipeline. Then, on Monday morning, the RCMP approached the Gitdumt’en checkpoint and said they would negotiate with whichever hereditary chiefs were present at noon. Meanwhile, they created an exclusion zone that cut off the Forest Service Road which gives access to the Gitdumt’en checkpoint and the Unist’ot’en checkpoint further on. The RCMP began denying access to the media, community members, and hereditary chiefs. They reportedly allowed four hereditary chiefs to pass.
At 2:50pm the RCMP began enforcing the court injunction at kilometer 44 on the Morice River road. At the same time, wifi and cellular service was interrupted, cutting off reporters who were stationed behind the police barricades with the Gitdumt’en from communicating with the outside world. At 2:51pm the Unist’ot’en Twitter page reported that the RCMP had “breached” the gate of the Gitdumt’en checkpoint and were “advancing armed, with military forces.” By the end of daylight, the RCMP had stalled out at the first Gitdumt’en checkpoint, and, according to an article published in The Star, many had managed to elude police and retreat to reinforce the second checkpoint, the original line of defence at the Unist’ot’en camp.
Watching this invasion from Vancouver was frustrating and disheartening for many of us because the frontline felt far away. But this feeling is deceiving: the truth is that the frontlines of the struggle against colonialism are everywhere. On CBC’s call-in afternoon show, the discussion neatly pivoted from the invasion of Unist’ot’en to the results of a TV award show. For so-called Canada, the invasion of Unist’ot’en is one news item amongst many, an interesting event at a specific place in the bush up north. But for us – for Indigenous people who have been dispossessed and displaced from our territories and made the city our home, and for working class people who are dedicated to dismantling the colonial project – the struggle at Unist’ot’en is our struggle.
The pipeline does not only transports stolen, fracked, life-threatening gas from the earth into the global marketplace: it is the prioritization of corporate profits over human and non-human lives; it is the logic of capitalist production over the needs of communities; it is economic growth over environmental sustainability; the pipeline is the colonial logic of the courts and the arms of the cops. Only together – through unity between Indigenous nations on our traditional lands and Indigenous nations displaced into urban alleyways, between the bridges on Morice Valley Road and the streets of downtown Vancouver, between the healing home at Unist’ot’en camp and the homes that resist child apprehension, eviction, and displacement at homeless tent cities – can we forge the blade that can cut the head off this colonial and capitalist snake.
Land defenders and home defenders: unite to kill the snake of Canadian colonialism!