Wet’suwet’en Pipeline Fight Forcing Trudeau to the Table

Police invasion of Wet’suwet’en territory
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) occupy a bridge in advance of Coastal GasLink pipeline workers. Red dresses hung by Wet’suwet’en land defenders symbolizing the thousands of missing and murdered indigenous women of Canada hang behind them. Image: Screengrab from video of a February 10 invasion.

“Canada invades. Invades on behalf of industry. Invades during ceremony. Canada tears us from our land.”

— Wetʼsuwetʼen Resistance Camp Communication

Greg Harman

The Wet’suwet’en peoples’s struggle against powerful fossil fuel interests and escalating violence of Canada’s militarized police forces is putting massive pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Over the last week, land defenders have barricaded ports and  shut down of much of the nation’s railway traffic.

More than a week after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) launched raids in Wet’suwet’en territory, Trudeau is calling for talks. Not until the police and pipeline workers retreat, has been the response.

While Canada’s own Supreme Court has previously supported the tribe’s historic land claim, a recent legal reversal has been used to justify mass arrests by RCMP tactical teams on behalf of TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink (CGL) and their liquified natural gas (LNG) pipeline project. Meanwhile, the clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation issued their own eviction order targeting CGL workers on their land.

Map of Wet’suwet’en territory
Map courtesy of The Guardian.

It’s an order supported by allies across Canada and beyond who have been inspired by the uncompromising defense of Wet’suwet’en territory within and apart from what is now called British Columbia in western Canada (map of recent actions).

As Molly Wickham of the Gidim’ten Clan informs CGL representatives approaching Wet’suwet’en territory in the developing documentary film Invasion:

“Canadian courts do not have any jurisdiction on Wet’suwet’en territories. The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have full jurisdiction. We have for thousands of years. Since time immemorial, we have never ceded or surrendered any of that jurisdiction.”

Undaunted by the moral implications of their decision or the power of popular resistance allied against them, Alberta Investment Management Corp. and American partner KKR are moving forward to buy majority shares in the pipeline. (KKR has locations in Houston (map), New York, and California.)

While a feature-length documentary of this resistance work will be circulating later in the year, communities are invited to share the following work in progress to help amplify the message of the Wet’suwet’en.

From the Invasion webpage:

In this era of “reconciliation”, Indigenous land is still being taken at gunpoint. INVASION is a new film about the Unist’ot’en Camp, Gidimt’en checkpoint and the larger Wet’suwet’en Nation standing up to the Canadian government and corporations who continue colonial violence against Indigenous people. 

**Full Length Film coming in 2020**

The Unist’ot’en Camp has been a beacon of resistance for nearly 10 years. It is a healing space for Indigenous people and settlers alike, and an active example of decolonization. The violence, environmental destruction, and disregard for human rights following TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) / Coastal GasLink’s interim injunction has been devastating to bear, but this fight is far from over.


Donate to the Nation’s here. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Artwork on landing page by Kwakwaka’wakw artist Gord Hill.

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