Hundreds of academics have signed a open letter calling for government intervention following the RCMP’s enforcement of a court order issued to Coastal GasLink to build a gas pipeline through the territory of Wet’suwet’en without limits.
The letter says that Canada has historically allowed its laws to be “wielded as a weapon against indigenous jurisdiction and taken as a tool for indigenous genocide.” The letter condemns the “aggression” by the police forces and “the total disregard for indigenous sovereignty and the environmental protection it reveals.”
The letter was signed by prominent academics such as University of British Columbia climate justice professor Naomi Klein; author of Red Skin, White Masks Glen Coulthard, who also teaches at UBC; and co-founder and former director of research at the Yellowhead Institute Shiri Pasternak.
“Unless an immediate withdrawal of the RCMP is implemented and the court order is lifted, the tacit approval of these acts by the federal government will be proof not only of the superficial nature of the stated commitment of the federal and provincial levels of government. with indigenous rights and reconciliation, but also the void of Prime Minister Trudeau’s declaration at the recent COP26 in Glasgow that Canada will take a ‘leadership role in the fight against climate change,’ “reads the letter.
The letter outlines specific calls to action for governments. It calls on the federal government to study the use of injunctive relief against First Nations in the context of charter rights and to commit to decarbonization without using natural gas, and urges British Columbia to cancel permits issued to Coastal GasLink.
“The authorization of the provincial government of permits for the construction of Coastal GasLink arises from a racist anthropology of discovery and claims of underlying land titles that has never been granted by the province,” the letter reads.
“The injunction against the protesters was awarded to Coastal GasLink based on these false assumptions, creating a legal house of cards.”
Other calls to action include a ban on the expansion of fossil fuels given the looming climate crisis, a call for Coastal GasLink to drop charges against the 29 people who were arrested last month, and a call for the RCMP to stop using the exclusion zones. to enforce the court order.
The open letter comes days after a separate letter was written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressing alarm over megaprojects like Coastal GasLink, the Trans Mountain expansion project, and the Site C hydroelectric dam that continues to be built, even after the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) asked Canada to stop all three due to human rights concerns.
The letter to Trudeau was signed by indigenous rights groups, climate advocacy organizations, and a bevy of academics just days after a formal presentation to the UN CERD to update on Canada’s progress, or lack thereof.
“Unless an immediate withdrawal from the RCMP is implemented … the tacit approval of these acts by the federal government will be proof of the superficial nature of the stated commitment (to reconciliation).” #Wetsuweten #CoastalGasLink #cdnpoli
That communication says that the RCMP, with the help of the provincial government, committed “human rights violations during the forced eviction of the Wet’suwet’en land defenders at the Gidimt’en checkpoint and Camp Coyote.” .
A spokesperson for Canada’s Minister of Crown-Indian Relations, Marc Miller, recently said National Observer of Canada that while Coastal GasLink enforcement and RCMP are under provincial jurisdiction, the federal government is committed to negotiations with the nation.
“The Hereditary Heads, the Government of British Columbia and the Government of Canada are discussing how to implement the rights and titles of Wet’suwet’en, as outlined in the Memorandum of understanding signed on May 14, 2020, ”said spokesman Jordan Ames-Sinclair.
“As negotiations on the assertion and implementation of Wet’suwet’en’s rights and title progress, the Wet’suwet’en collective (hereditary chiefs, elected representatives and community members) will need to work to develop their own governance, supported by Canada and British Columbia. “
John Woodside / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada National Observer