“It’s time to stand up for all Indigenous people all across Turtle Island.” — Molly Wickham (Sleydo'), Wet'suwet'en spokesperson
Ottawa (10 Feb. 2020) — The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) stands in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en land defenders and continues to call for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
Over the past few days, several people have been arrested as the RCMP aggressively raids the Wet’suwet’en camps along the Morice West Forest Service Road in northern B.C. The land defenders and their supporters brace for continued raids on Wet’suwet’en land.
The labour movement is no stranger to seeing governments invoke the law to suppress rights, and so we stand in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en land defenders in their struggle.
The raid is unjust
All 5 Wet’suwet’en clans have opposed the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which would run through their traditional, unceded territory. Land defenders at the Wet’suwet’en camps have been peacefully protecting the territory in support of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs.
The RCMP says it is enforcing an injunction obtained by Coastal GasLink, but the justification and the legality are still in question. Furthermore, in early January the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs issued an eviction notice to Coastal GasLink for violating Wet’suwet’en trespassing laws.
The Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, who govern the nation’s territory, have not provided free, prior, and informed consent to Coastal GasLink.
As the raids began early Thursday morning, speaking from the access point in Gidim’ten territory, spokesperson Molly Wickham (Sleydo') said via Facebook video, “We have a right and a responsibility to be protecting our territory, to be protecting our water, to be protecting our future generations.”
The Wet'suwet'en people have inherent Indigenous rights and title that must be recognized and respected.
NUPGE supports the rights of the Wet’suwet’en people
As a family of unions committed to the full implementation of the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as well as, the Calls for Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, NUPGE is deeply troubled by the current and ongoing events on Wet'suwet'en territory, including the use of exclusion zones, forceful removal of land defenders, and threats to journalists.
The situation is especially shocking considering B.C. became the first jurisdiction in Canada to pass legislation implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in November 2019.
A historic moment
Now is a critical moment. How governments, police, and people across Canada respond to this situation will not only test whether their commitment to reconciliation is genuine, but it will impact Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities and our environment for generations to come.
Further escalations threaten to unravel progress towards reconciliation. We urge the RCMP to withdraw and ask for all parties to resume talks to reach a negotiated settlement.
Call to action
As Wet’suwet’en spokesperson Wickham urged, “It’s time to stand up for all Indigenous people all across Turtle Island.” NUPGE encourages members to do what they can to support the Wet’suwet’en people and to help raise awareness.
It is crucial that we don’t let these injustices go unnoticed. Live updates can be found on social media.
Solidarity actions that began last week continue today across the country and even internationally under the banner, All Out for Wet’suwet’en. The Wet’suwet’en Supporter Toolkit provides other examples of how people can offer support.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE