Sisters Uncut stands in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en
Thursday, February 20, 2020
Before dawn on 6th February 2020, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) spearheaded a militarized attack against the Wet’suwet’en people, a sovereign Indigenous Nation occupied by the colonial forces of Canada—a nation founded on Indigenous genocide. The RCMP and Coastal GasLink have continually violated the Wet’suwet’en protocol of Free Prior and Informed Consent by invading Wet’suwet’en territories, for the pursuit of an extractive natural gas pipeline that will bring our world one step closer to climate apocalypse. The violent raid was facilitated by an injunction notice granted by the Supreme Court of British Columbia to Coastal GasLink, as the courts once again chose to protect corporate interests over Indigenous sovereignty.
From the belly of the colonial beast, Sisters Uncut stands in solidarity with those on the frontlines and with Indigenous people everywhere in the global fight against empire. We recognize the direct links between gendered, white supremacist and colonial violence. We fight colonialism in all its forms, including its imposition of patriarchal structures and the gender binary. We support the fight of the Wet’suwet’en people and their history-making resistance movement, a movement where Indigenous women hold leadership.
History of the movement for Wet’suwet’en Sovereignty
The Wet’suwet’en people have practised Anuc ‘nu’at’en (Wet’suwet’en law) since time immemorial, and have never ceded nor surrendered title to their lands. In 1997, the British Columbia Supreme Court, through the Delgamuukw v. the Queen case, recognized that Aboriginal title is not extinguished in Wet’suwet’en territories, which means that the Wet’suwet’en were recognized as having the right to their territories. However, the next several decades would prove that no amount of colonial court recognition will stop the state continuing to threaten Indigenous sovereignty, as the Delgamuukw decision would be violated with fury.
The Unist’ot’en clan is a clan of the Wet’suwet’en nation, an Indigenous nation who have been instrumental in the fight against resource extraction and colonial power. The Unist’ot’en camp specifically was established as an Indigenous reoccupation of Wet’suwet’en land in so-called “Northern British Columbia, Canada”, led by Indigenous leaders in resistance to colonial occupation that has aimed to extinguish them for centuries. The Unist’ot’en camp was first established in 2009, with a log cabin constructed in 2010 where pipeline construction would need to begin. Three different corporations—Coastal GasLink, Chevron and Enbridge—have all tried to build pipelines on these territories in the decade since, but none have been successful in their malevolent plight.
In 2015, the Wet’suwet’en constructed a healing centre at Unist’ot’en camp to stand for connection to the land and to further revitalize cultural identity. Later that same year, hereditary chiefs from all five Wet’suwet’en clans came together to assert that collectively they would refuse to allow pipelines and other resource extraction projects on their territories.
The forces of capital and white supremacy continued to wage their war on Wet’suwet’en land defenders in the years following, culminating in Coastal GasLink serving an application for an injunction to the camp in 2018. Essentially, when the BC Supreme Court grants a corporation an injunction, it gives that corporation the legal justification to destroy whatever stands in the way of the purpose it stated it needed the injunction for, in this case a natural gas pipeline. resource extraction project.
The supreme court’s injunction decision bulldozes through a resource extraction project that the Wet’suwet’en do not consent to, which is in violation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, often referred to as UNDRIP, which the province of BC passed legislation to harmonize with BC laws in 2019. Article 10 of UNDRIP states that Free, Prior and Informed Consent must be obtained from Indigenous nations before taking action that will result in the removal of them from their territories, and Article 32 states that the objective of consultation for extraction projects must be to obtain consent from Indigenous nations. The supreme court decision directly violates both Article 10 and Article 32 – forced removal is a result of extraction projects, and the aim of the consultation process for the pipeline was not consent, it was to force the pipeline through.
Coastal GasLink has used its injunction backed by the colonial courts, to wage multiple rounds of RCMP paramilitary attacks on the Wet’suwet’en people in January 2019 and January 2020 respectively in pursuit of Coastal GasLink’s pipeline. On 7th January 2019, an interim injunction was granted to Coastal GasLink and consequently, 14 Indigenous land defenders were violently arrested for fighting Coastal GasLink’s invasion, but still in the following year, construction was unable to begin as land defenders held strong. A year later, the same pattern of violence continues as more than double the number of arrests have occurred as the interim injunction was extended on December 31st, 2019.
This most recent supreme court decision made the backwards argument that unless an Indigenous nation has signed a treaty, they are not able to practice their own laws.The Wet’suwet’en have refused to sign a treaty with the Canadian state for as long as the Canadian state has yielded its force over them. They are a sovereign nation. Shortly after the injunction was issued, all 5 Wet’suwet’en Hereditary chiefs issued an eviction notice to expel Coastal GasLink from their territories as determined by Anuc ‘nu’at’en (Wet’suwet’en law). From there, resistance has been monumental and historic.
International solidarity across colonial borders is needed now more than ever. The Wet’suwet’en have called for international solidarity actions and there are actions taking place all across so-called Canada. There are actions happening around the world too. From Oakland to Ecuador, people are coming together to stay #wetsuwetenstrong, refusing to accept a status quo of Indigenous murders, and refusing to allow wealth and power to continue to be concentrated into fewer and fewer hands.
Join us and stand with the Wet’suwet’en people, and demand that the Premier of British Columbia, John Horgan, take action to stop this colonial violence by publicly condemning it, removing the RCMP presence and respecting Anuc ‘nu’at’en. If you are resident in the UK, we call on you not to remain silent and allow the Commonwealth to continue the violent colonial legacy of the British Empire. The connections between the UK and the Canadian state are not too distant, and the colonial violence that the Canadian state perpetuates against Indigenous people leaves blood on hands across the rest of the Commonwealth. Email John Horgan at [email protected] and demand an end to this colonial war, or reach out to your local MP and demand they pressure John Horgan to intervene and stop the RCMP violence. If you are able, make a donation to the Unist’ot’en legal fund here as well: https://unistoten.camp/support-us/donate/. Check out https://www.yintahaccess.com/ and https://unistoten.camp/, follow on twitter @unistotencamp @Gidimten and on instagram @gidimten_checkpoint for regular updates – stay informed, and stay organized. Follow @wet_suwet_en_UK on twitter for updates on UK solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en. Colonial violence and gender violence are intrinsically linked and Sisters Uncut will not stop fighting until both are abolished.