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Voices / Letters from readers

Wet’suwet’en: latest example of Indigenous resistance to fossil fuel corporations

In an expression of solidarity with the brave citizens of the Wet’suwet’en tribe who are defending their sacred land in British Columbia from the Coastal GasLink pipeline, Post Oil Solutions and its Climate Café will hold an event expressing support on Monday, March 2, 6 p.m., in the community room of the Brattleboro Food Co-op. (Please do not park in the Co-op parking lot. Thank you.).

The event is free, though we will pass the hat for needed donations to support the tribe’s efforts. Light refreshments will be available.

We will show a short film, Invasion, about the 10-year Wet’suwet’en struggle and the healing center its people have built in the path of the pipeline, as well as several short video updates.

The Wet’suwet’en community is but the latest example of how Indigenous people have been on the front lines of resistance to fossil fuel corporations.

We’re all familiar with the heroic stand of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe around the Dakota Access Pipeline. And tribes under the leadership of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe have organized with ranchers and other citizens of the Great Plains communities of Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska to stop the Keystone XL should the courts finally grant TC Energy permission to proceed with the company’s plans for a pipeline.

Indigenous people have been particularly active in Canada, especially in the eastern and western provinces, where they have engaged in nonviolent resistance against oil and gas corporations.

This is exemplified by the actions of all five Wet’suwet’en clans, which, under the tribe’s code of laws, have unanimously opposed the incursions by Coastal to clear a logging road in their territory to make way for a pipeline.

In 1997, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that the Wet’suwet’en had not given up rights to their land — more than 8,000 square miles in British Columbia.

More recently, however, the British Columbia Supreme Court sided with Coastal, ruling that Canadian law trumps tribal law.

In response, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) initiated a raid against tribal members this past week who were blocking passage, arresting seven people.

“We are in absolute outrage and a state of painful anguish as we witness the Wet’suwet’en people having their Title and Rights brutally trampled on and their right to self-determination denied,” Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) said in a statement.

“All Wet’suwet’en Clans have rejected the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline because this is our home,” said the land defenders in a statement. “Our medicines, our berries, our food, the animals, our water, our culture are all here since time immemorial.”

A call has gone out for Indigenous and settler-ally land defenders to respond to this crisis. Funds are urgently needed for on the ground and legal defense.

Please come to this film/fundraiser to support the Wet’suwet’ens!

Tim Stevenson
Athens

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Originally published in The Commons issue #548 (Wednesday, February 12, 2020). This story appeared on page C3.

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