No Pipeline without Wet’suwet’en consent!
On new year’s day 2020, BC Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Church released a ruling approving Coastal Gaslink’s application for an injunction to force their gas pipeline through the territories of the Wet’suwet’en, trespassing the decisions and consent of the Indigenous nation.
In the weeks since the Church ruling, all five clans of the Wet’suwet’en nation have stood behind the Unist’ot’en Camp, which the Dark House Clan of the Wet’suwet’en nation set up more than 10 years years ago in the proposed path of the pipeline. Together, the 5 clans evicted the Coastal Gaslink construction operation from Unist’ot’en territory and unanimously affirmed their united opposition to the Coastal Gaslink pipeline.
On February 6th, the RCMP started their raid, attacking checkpoints that Indigneous land defenders set up along the Morice Valley Forest Service Road to help defend Unist’ot’en Camp and the sovereignty of the Wet’suwet’en nation. On the first day, police arrested 6 land defenders, and censored the reporting of media present, detaining and removing reporters who they caught inside their spontaneously declared “exclusion zone.”
The Wet’suwet’en are not alone. In cities and towns all throughout Canada and the US, communities are taking action to fight against Canada’s trespass of Wet’suwet’en sovereignty. Young Indigenous people in Victoria, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Halifax, and more, have occupied government offices and banks invested in the pipeline. Rallies and direct actions have shut down highways, rail lines, and other infrastructure critical to the transportation and sale of resources stolen from Indigenous peoples, including the Port of Vancouver.
Why block the Port of Vancouver?
The Port of Vancouver is far from Wet’suwet’en territory, which is up in northern BC, near Smithers. And the fight is against a pipeline that moves gas, not the sort of commodities moved at Vancouver’s container port. So why are supporters of the Wet’suwet’en blockading the port?
The main motivation for Canada’s violation of Indigenous sovereignty is to steal land, and for corporations to make profits off the theft of that land. We are using a “choke point” strategy to cut off Canada’s business as usual capitalist economy. The port is a narrow point of access to commercial markets, and if stolen land can’t make it to market, then corporations can’t profit.
Blocking the Port of Vancouver for a few hours of a few days communicates a powerful message that the Wet’suwet’en nation is not alone, and that our movement, while still small, is growing and must become more powerful to break the hold that corporations, police, and colonial courts have over our lives and relations between Indigenous nations and non-Indigenous people.
Doesn’t this affect workers who are just trying to get by?
We are shutting down the Port to strike at the pro-business, profit-driven policies of BC and Canada’s governments, but we know this affects workers; particularly independent owner-operator truck drivers, who often get paid by the load, not by the hour. This problem shows that Indigenous and working class struggles are interwoven.
No worker should feel so precarious, so close to the edge that they feel they have no choice but to participate in the colonial theft of lands from Indigenous nations and destruction of the ecosystem to feed their own family. But Canada is built on these criminal foundations and workers are forced to carry out the work of stealing land, whether by building the Coastal Gaslink pipeline or by moving stolen goods to market through rail, trucking, and shipping networks. Canada, lying politicians, and bosses depend on workers, not the other way around. Workers can stand with Indigenous nations resisting land theft, refuse to violate Indigenous sovereignty the same way you’d refuse to cross another worker’s picket line.
We stand with Unist’ot’en! Wet’suwet’en strong!
The fight against Coastal Gaslink’s pipeline project is a fight for Wet’suwet’en sovereign control over their territories. Indigenous nations, with or without treaties, have not consented to Canada’s colonial “rule of law” that steals and destroys their lands to convert them into property, and poisons the waters that nurture life and reciprocal relations.
Indigenous law, including the Wet’suwet’en law against trespass into their territories, supersedes Canada’s colonial laws. And we join with the Wet’suwet’en in defence of Wet’suwet’en sovereignty against Canada’s colonial invasion.