Colonizers might learn how to pronounce the word reconciliation, but that won’t stop them from resurfacing time and again.
In Jan. 2019, the RCMP raided the setup camps and checkpoints on the traditional lands of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in northern British Columbia. These tensions arose after the land defenders stood against the approved Coastal GasLink pipeline project, which would carry natural gas through unceded ancestral lands.
Now, a year later, the BC Supreme Court ruled in favour of the $6.6 billion project––recognizing Canadian law over Indigenous law on unceded lands––allowing the construction to begin while providing another mandate for the RCMP to enforce the injunction.
The RCMP set up an exclusion zone. What this means is an access-control checkpoint was set up at the 27-kilometre mark of the forest road, restricting entrance to members of the community that might be carrying food supply, but also to the journalists covering the crisis. This directly violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and the importance of keeping the public informed.
Sending militarized forces to unceded territories taps into the widely damaging colonial-capitalist narrative which Canada has been trying to step away from. It carries the message that Indigenous people are criminals for standing in the way.
Let me put things into perspective for you. If a pipeline was threatening to deteriorate your own backyard––the garden that you’ve spent summers building to greet your dear friends with your fresh strawberry and mint salad––while also threatening to sabotage your water so an industry that has been proven to destroy our planet can continue to fuel a foreign market… Wouldn’t you stand up? Wouldn’t you at least try to have a conversation? Yet, while BC Premier John Horgan was visiting Kitimat, he refused to meet with hereditary Chiefs of Wet’suwet’en.
Frankly, this is undeniably part of a bigger fight that concerns all Canadians––how we intend to protect our environment. This is a battle against capitalism and corporations that starts with us respecting Indigenous lands.
Graphic by Victoria Blair