Last night I was blessed to attend a Zoom meeting for allies of the Wet’suwet’en struggle for sovereignty. You can watch a recording of the call here!
I’ve been heavily involved in the struggles against the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines. While continuing to do research about those pipelines, I was led to this amazing YouTube video documenting the eviction of the Coastal GasLink construction workers from Wet’suwet’en territory in January, 2020. I can still remember how I felt then, asking myself “are you kidding me?” I had never heard of the Wet’suwet’en peoples or the Coastal GasLink pipeline. But this became one of my main projects since that day.
Now, almost three years later, despite heroic, prayerful, sustained, peaceful work, much of the pipeline has been built. There has been relentless harassment from armed Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
There is great urgency now to stand in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en because drilling has begun under Wedzwin Kwa, the river running through Wet’suwet’en territory. Many salmon are present for spawning.
During the call, Chief Na’Moks emphasized what was happening affects us all because of the global nature of greenhouse emissions, and the global struggle for Indigenous sovereignty. Saying the nation (Canada) needs a moral shakeup.
When Chief Na’Moks was finally able to visit the site of the drilling at the river he said the sounds and vibrations of the construction could be heard kilometers away.
He said our ancestors were outlaws. We are grateful to them now. We have to act now. Organize yourselves to protect the future of us all. “When you see something wrong, you must say something about it. If not, you are guilty by association. You must go to your politicians for the benefit of the children, of everyone. I was taught to stand up for my children and future generations.”
We are reaching the point of no return. If the water is ruined, there will be a ripple effect. On farming, cattle, food, etc.
This is happening now.
You guys are good people. So is anyone who stands up. People cannot sit on the fence. I appreciate your ears, your brains. I hope your intelligence will help us out.
Coordinated rallies are being planned at RBC banks in Canada, one of the main companies financing the Coastal Gaslink pipeline. This is a link to a map of locations of actions to support the Wet’suwet’en. https://actionnetwork.org/event_campaigns/drilling-under-wedzwin-kwa-allid-mobilization
Yesterday, over an emotional hour-long webinar, the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have called upon you to stand up in solidarity with them by mobilizing and organizing long term in support of them.
Now is the time to act. If you are already taking action in any way, we look forward to standing in solidarity together. If you want to take action but aren’t already planning to or don’t know how, we are here to support you.
“I was taught to stand up … I was taught to earn my own way … I need to move forward with this. I’m hoping that I am making sense to all those that are listening. I appreciate your ears. I appreciate your brain. And hopefully your intelligence will help us out in a way that is a good way. Misiyh,” said Chief Woos last night.
“We never never allowed this project to go through. There has been no consent from any of the hereditary chiefs or our people. We have villages that signed on, but villages only have jurisdiction within their reserve,” added Chief Na’Moks.
For Molly Wickham, “(t)he ‘Memorandum of Understanding in 2020’ was meant to put an end to Shutdown Canada… Shutdown Canada impacted their pocketbook… it brought into question the viability of the way they’re treating Indigenous Peoples, of the way they were treating the Wet’suwet’en by bringing in militarized raids into our territories. Because of this they came to the table… and this was supposed to be .. the implementation of what our ancestors … had been fighting for.”
Memorandum of Understanding Between Canada, British Columbia and Wet’suwet’en as agreed on February 29, 2020
- Canada and British Columbia (B.C.) recognize that Wet’suwet’en rights and title are held by Wet’suwet’en Houses under their system of governance.
- Canada and B.C. recognize Wet’suwet’en aboriginal rights and title throughout the Yintah.
- Canada, B.C. and the Wet’suwet’en commit to the negotiations described below (commencing immediately).
- B.C. commits to engage in these negotiations consistent with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.
- Canada and B.C. will provide the necessary resources to Wet’suwet’en for these negotiations.
- The parties agree these negotiations are to be intensively mediated by an agreed upon mediator.
Agreement to be negotiated over the next 3 months
- Legal recognition that the Wet’suwet’en Houses are the Indigenous governing body holding the Wet’suwet’en Aboriginal rights and title in accordance with our Inuk Nuatden.
- Legal recognition of Wet’suwet’en title as a legal interest in land by Canada and B.C.
- There will be no impact on existing rights and interests pertaining to land until jurisdiction is transferred to the Wet’suwet’en.
- Jurisdiction that flows from Wet’suwet’en Aboriginal rights and title will be transferred to Wet’suwet’en over time based on an agreed upon timetable (with the objective for transition of some areas within 6 months and a schedule for the remaining areas of jurisdiction thereafter).
- In some cases the jurisdiction that is transferred to the Wet’suwet’en will be exclusive and in some cases it will be shared with Canada or B.C.
- The areas of jurisdiction that will need to be addressed include the following (without limitation):
- child and family wellness (6-month timeline)
- water (6-month timeline)
- Wet’suwet’en Nation Reunification Strategy (6-month timeline)
- land use planning
- lands and resources
- revenue sharing, fair and just compensation, economic component of Aboriginal title
- informed decision making
- such other areas as the Wet’suwet’en propose
- Title will be implemented and jurisdiction (exclusive or shared) will be transferred once specifics on how Aboriginal and crown titles interface have been addressed; this includes the following:
- transparency, accountability, and administrative fairness mechanisms including clear process and remedies to address grievances of any person, pertaining to all areas of shared and exclusive jurisdiction
- clarity on the Wet’suwet’en governance structures, systems, and laws, that will be ratified by the Wet’suwet’en and will be used to implement their title to the extent required to understand the interface between the Crown and Wet’suwet’en jurisdiction
- This agreement is to be ratified by Canada, B.C. and Wet’suwet’en under their respective systems of governance.
- The agreement will be binding on Canada, B.C. and the Wet’suwet’en and all of their agencies, departments and officials as they conduct their business together as governments.
Agreement to be negotiated over the next 12 months
- The specifics of how Aboriginal and Crown titles interface.
- The agreement recognizing Wet’suwet’en rights and title will be protected by Section 35 of the Constitution, 1982.