Supporters in London gathered to show solidarity with the people of Wet’suwet’en on Friday night, who are fighting a gas pipeline project in British Columbia.
The rally, titled Allies in Solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en, took place at 6 pm in front of Aeolian Hall, where indigenous singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie was scheduled to perform later that night.
Around 40 people came out to show their support and listen to two Mohawk activists who had recently traveled to the Gidimt’en checkpoint in northern British Columbia to show solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en.
The two were among those arrested in the most recent blockade that was brought down by RCMP.
“I’ve seen a river poisoned, I’ve seen a river irreparably polluted, so when I saw this source of living, untouched, untouched water, I knew we had to do something to protect it,” said Layla Staats, a Mohawk activist.
Staats said she has been working on a documentary about water warnings and boiled water in reservoirs, which is what prompted her to want to go to camp with other members of her community.
“It’s not just about their river, it’s not just about this fight, it’s not just about them alone, and we are all together to say that this is not right, to say that there is no consent, and when we say that it is not need to be heard. “
The Morice River, which runs through the territory, is still considered a source of clean water by the locals and is a big part of the Wet’suwet’en people’s fight against a pipeline running through the area.
Edmontonians march in solidarity with the people of Wet’suwet’en who oppose the Coastal GasLink project
Mohawk activist Skyler Williams described the feeling of being in a place where the water is so clean that you can drink directly from it. “It’s something worth fighting for,” Williams said.
“The lands we are on now are borrowed. We borrow these lands from future generations, so whatever we can do to defend those lands or to defend those waters and certainly defend each other. “
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On Friday, November 19, BC RCMP arrested 15 people, including two journalists, as they moved to enforce a court order.
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The RCMP was enforcing a court order ordered by the BC Supreme Court that prevents opponents from preventing access to Coastal GasLink activities, permitted by Canadian law.
The day before, RCMP said they were preparing to “rescue” more than 500 workers “trapped” by a blockade that aims to stop construction of a pipeline on First Nations lands.
Several days earlier, the Gidimt’en checkpoint, which shares information about the blockade, tweeted that the Wet’suwet’en Nation had successfully enforced its “old transgression laws” and closed the territory.
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“The Morice Forest Service Highway has been destroyed and access to the Coastal Gaslink is no longer possible,” he said.
Members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation and their supporters have been fighting the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline for several years, and RCMP responded to similar lockdowns that were set to block construction in January 2019 and 2020.
“The people of Wet’suwet’en, under the rule of their hereditary chiefs, stand in the way of the largest hydraulic fracturing project in Canadian history. Our medicines, our berries, our food, animals, our water, our culture, our homes have been here since time immemorial, ”Sleydo Molly Wickham said in a statement earlier this week.
Wickham has been the primary spokesperson for the Gidimt’en checkpoint for several years and is also a member of the Gidimt’en Clan within the Wet’suwet’en First Nation.
Two journalists among 15 people arrested by RCMP near BC pipeline workplace
Award-winning photojournalist Amber Bracken and documentary filmmaker Michael Toledano were also among those arrested and have since been released.
The Wet’suwet’en are a Northern British Columbia First Nation that have never signed any treaties or renounced any rights or titles to their lands.
In 1997, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa court case that the Wet’suwet’en had not relinquished any rights or titles to their land.
According to a report by the British Columbia Treaty Commission, the ruling means that “Aboriginal title does exist in British Columbia” and that “when it comes to Crown land, the government should consult with First Nations and may have to make up for them. “
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While multiple chiefs-elect on the reservations have signed on to the Coastal GasLink Project, hereditary chiefs remain against it.
The hereditary chiefs of Wet’suewet’en have long held that elected gang chiefs do not have jurisdiction to speak on behalf of the nation and that hereditary chiefs, an independent governing body representing clans within the nation Wet’suwet’en, to do.
– with files from Elizabeth McSheffrey of Global News and The Candian Press
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