Have you seen Wet’suwet’en in the news recently? Are you aware of the current situation between them, the RCMP, and our federal and provincial governments?
Who are the Wet’suwet’en?
The Wet’suwet’en are an Indigenous Nation made up of five clans and 13 house groups that spread across 22,000km^2 of the central interior of B.C. outside of Burns Lake. The five clans include the Gilseyhu (Big Frog), Laksilyu (Small Frog), Gitdumden (Wolf/Bear), Laksamshu (Fireweed) and Tsayu (Beaver clan).
Currently, the Federal & Provincial Governments, RCMP, and Coastal GasLink/TransCanada are violating the sovereignty and rights of the Wet’suwet’en Nation. Under Wet’suwet’en law, each clan has full jurisdiction to steward and control access to their territory. This is supported by the 1997 Supreme Court of Canada Case, Delgamuukw v. British Columbia, which found that the Wet’suwet’en had never ceded their territory. Their rights and title to their land has never been extinguished. Under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which BC’s provincial government adopted into law in 2019, the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous peoples must be obtained before government and industry can go through with any project.
The hereditary chiefs of all 5 clans have unanimously opposed all pipeline proposals and have not consented to Coastal Gas/TransCanada to work on their lands. Despite this, a 670-kilometre natural-gas pipeline has been proposed to run right through Wet’suwet’en territory. The people of Wet’sewet’en have been met with hostility from the RCMP. A checkpoint has been established blocking anyone from entering the territory without authorization and Premier Horgan has refused to meet with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.
Wet’suwet’en and supporters have been resisting with peaceful protests. This includes a group of Indigenous youth who were arrested in Victoria after occupying the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. They demonstrated peacefully for 18 hours demanding that the RCMP withdraw from Wet’suwet’en territory and for Premier Horgan to meet with hereditary chiefs. The Wet’suwet’en people are the only authorities who have jurisdiction over this unceded territory. Not the Canadian government or RCMP, who are currently breaking the law and breaking promises to Indigenous peoples by restricting access to these lands. Their demands are not unreasonable and Surfrider Foundation Vancouver Island stands in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en.
How can you help stand in solidarity? We’ve included some resources below. This is just a short summary of how the Wet’suwet’en peoples rights have been violated and they need our help.
Social Media Resources –
@gidimten_checkpoint @takaiya.blaney @indigenousclimateaction @dogwoodbc