OTTAWA - Today’s enforcement action in Wet’suwet’en territory is another humiliating stain on Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples.
At 5 a.m. this morning, the RCMP moved into Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C. to enforce an injunction issued by the B.C. Supreme Court. They arrested Wet’suwet’en clan members and their allies who are blocking work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline project by occupying traditional territory along the Morice West Forest Service road.
“This is a political failure,” said Paul Manly (MP, Nanaimo-Ladysmith) who travelled to the area in January. “Talks could have continued; the hereditary chiefs were willing to continue. There was no reason to enforce this injunction at this specific time.
“Just days ago it was reported that the Coastal GasLink pipeline project is missing a key authorization from the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office. The missing authorization specifically deals with the geographical area where today’s enforcement action occurred. Construction on this project can not move forward without this authorization,” Manly added.
“This enforcement is another black eye on Canada’s relationship with Indigenous people,” said Green Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). “British Columbia has passed legislation to enshrine UNDRIP in B.C. law but so far it has not demonstrated a commitment to honouring that legislation. The federal government, for its part, must not shrug its shoulders and claim that this conflict is not under its jurisdiction. That is not how First Nations see it. That is not how the United Nations sees it. And that is not how the world is going to see it,” she added.
Green Party of Canada critic for Crown-Indigenous relations, Jenica Atwin (MP, Fredericton) said: “The UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination released a report in December calling on Canada to suspend work on this project until proper consent is obtained from the hereditary chiefs. Free, prior and informed consent should not mean Indigenous communities must agree to any and all industrial projects in their territories, or face militarized police action. This is not what Canadians expect from our governments when they say that they want to fix our broken relationship with First Nations.”
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