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Wet’suwet’en Nation needs your support!

We need all hands on deck to support the Wet’suwet’en, whose rights and title to their unceded territory in northern British Columbia are at risk. 

On December 31, 2019, the B.C. Supreme Court granted an injunction against members of the Wet’suwet’en nation who have been stewarding and protecting their traditional territories from Coastal GasLink’s (CGL) liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline. 

In response, the Hereditary Chiefs of all Wet’suwet’en clans, acting in unity, have issued have issued and enforced an eviction of CGL’s workers from the territory. Will you act in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en and make your voice heard in support of Indigenous rights? 

Not in Canada? Click here to sign US letter. 

 



Letter Text: 

Your project does not have the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the Wet’suwet’en Clans and Houses on their unceded traditional territory. I understand that the Supreme Court recently granted the injunction your company sought in order to forcibly impose the project on Wet’suwet’en lands. However, according to legal experts, the injunction itself is likely to be at odds with the letter and spirit of Supreme Court of Canada decisions in Delgamuukw and Tsilhqot’in actions (https://www.firstpeopleslaw.com/index/articles/381.php). Namely, the Delgamuukw decision recognized that Aboriginal title had never been extinguished across 22,000 km2 of Wet’suwet’en traditional territory, while Tsilhqot’in confirmed that it is Aboriginal Peoples or Nations that are the title holders regardless of any Indian Act band structure. What’s more, British Columbia recently adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. The Act gives effect to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which prohibits forcible removal of Indigenous peoples from their lands or territories. 

The Wet’suwet’en are currently exploring options for further court action, including an appeal of the decision and a constitutional challenge. 

I call on Coastal Gas Link to respect the inherent Indigenous rights and title of the Wet’suwet’en, and to defer to their injunction against CGL presence on their territory, at least until the underlying issues have been fully litigated.

I also understand that since obtaining the initial interim injunction order, CGL has interfered with the constitutionally protected rights of Wet’suwet’en people to access their lands for hunting, trapping, and ceremony. 

I call on you to immediately stop these violations. 





 

 

 

 

Canada’s highest court has affirmed that the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have jurisdiction over their 22,000 square kilometres of territory. This video explains Wet’suwet’en governance and why chiefs oppose pipelines.

More about the Unist’ot’en Case

The Wet’suwet’en people, under the governance of their hereditary chiefs, are opposing the largest fracking project in Canadian history. The Coastal Gas Link pipeline (CGL), owned by TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) aims to connect the fracking operations of northeastern B.C. with a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility in the coastal town of Kitimat. This project aims to blaze a trail that would turn pristine forests and salmon streams into a fossil fuel corridor. If CGL were to be built and become operational, it would irreversibly transform the ecology and character of northern B.C. It would also lock in decades of fossil fuel extraction at a time when scientists are warning of untold suffering unless all nations adopt rapid decarbonization measures. 

Coastal GasLink has bulldozed through Wet’suwet’en territories, destroying archaeological sites and occupying their land with industrial man-camps. Private security firms and RCMP have continually interfered with the constitutionally protected rights of Wet’suwet’en people to access their unceded lands for hunting, trapping, and ceremony. 

As Aboriginal law expert Bruce McIvor wrote after the RCMP raided the Gidimt’en checkpoint in January 2019: “The sight of heavily-armed RCMP officers scaling the checkpoint and forcibly subduing Indigenous people shakes and threatens constitutional legal principles painstakingly developed through a series of Supreme Court of Canada decisions including Calder (1973), Delgamuukw (1997), Marshall/Bernard (2005) and Tsilhqot’in (2014).”

The time is now for urgent support of Indigenous rights: make your voice heard. 

 

Coastal Gas Link’s  injunction would prevent Unist’ot’en members from carrying out traditional activities – such as trapping, gathering and healing ceremonies – on Unist’ot’en land.  Coastal Gas Link are being permitted to drill, build roads, erect construction camps and import hundreds of migrant workers — all to build a fracked gas  pipeline. The Unist’ot’en (“people of the headwaters”) are one of the 13 House groups of the Wet’suwet’en Nation. Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, whose inherent rights on the land were established in the groundbreaking Delgamuukw Supreme Court of Canada judgment, are united in opposing the pipeline. 


“Our people’s belief is that we are part of the land. The land is not separate from us. The land sustains us. And if we don’t take care of her, she won’t be able to sustain us, and we as a generation of people will die.”

Freda Huson, Unist'ot'en Hereditary Spokesperson

Since 2010, the Unist’ot’en have operated a cultural camp at Wedzin Kwa in order to reclaim land-based practices and revitalize traditional ways. The camp features a traditional pithouse, permaculture gardens, and a Healing Centre that supports people in recovery.  

Members of the community report that Coastal Gas Link, BC and Canada have responded to opposition to the fracked gas pipeline project by consistently attempting to ignore and bypass the authority of Wet’suwet’en chiefs, conducting “consultations” with individuals who have no standing to represent the Nation. In December 2018, Coastal Gas Link asked the BC Supreme Court for an injunction ordering removal of a gate that the Unist’ot’en had installed on the site to protect the camp and prevent encroachment on the territory in accordance with Wet’suwet’en laws. In its arguments to the Supreme Court, the company stated that it had obtained all the necessary permits – failing to mention the fact that it had not undergone a federal regulatory review or obtained any federal permits.

Since then, Coastal Gas Link has used its own security forces and the RCMP to prevent the Unist’ot’en from following their law and exercising their Indigenous rights. Members of these forces have arrested Unist’ot’en members, destroyed a trapline, and threatened Healing Centre clients and matriarchs attempting to gather traditional foods,  access traplines and conduct ceremony. They have also bulldozed a heritage site containing Wet’suwet’en artifacts.


“The Supreme Court of Canada’s Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa decision determined that Wet’suwet’en rights and title have never been extinguished across 22,000 km2 of British Columbia. As plaintiffs in the court case, and title holders on our land, we are exercising our right to exclusive use and occupation of land, and our right to determine its use. We ask for your support in our fight to have our Aboriginal title upheld, and to keep our lands healthy, clean, and Wet’suwet’en.”

Wet'suwet'en, Hereditary Chiefs

About the pipeline: Coastal Gas Link is proposing a 670-km pipeline carrying fracked gas from Dawson Creek to a proposed LNG facility in Kitimat. The pipeline is owned by  TransCanada, the same corporation funding the Keystone XL and Energy East Pipeline projects.

Coastal Gas Link is part of a recently-approved $40 billion LNG Canada project which is the single largest private sector investment in Canadian history. The Malaysian company Petronas, which abandoned its own Pacific NorthWest LNG project when faced with First Nations opposition (link to victories page), has a 25% stake in LNG Canada.

According to the Pembina Institute, LNG Canada’s carbon footprint would be 8.6 million tonnes (Mt) by 2030, making it impossible to achieve even the targets mandated BC’s recently-weakened climate legislation. Another concern is the process of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) used to obtain the gas, which pollutes groundwater and causes large amounts of methane to escape into the atmosphere, which has a serious impact on our climate and public health. The pipeline will cross hundreds of salmon-bearing streams, terminating in an LNG liquefaction and export facility in the Skeena River estuary.


“We honored the terms of the injunction…we honored all the terms of the agreements we’ve made…We are witnessing police break all of the agreements they have made with our chiefs, watching them actively protecting CGL and its contractors as they violate the Wildlife Act and the conditions of their permits, and watching the agencies responsible for enforcing these conditions do nothing…Coastal Gaslink is breaking all their own Canadian laws while we are upholding Wet’suwet’en laws and responsibilities to the land.”

Freda Huson, Unist'ot'en Spokesperson

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Wet’suwet’en Nation needs your support! Add your name to a letter calling on Coastal Gas Link to respect Indigenous People’s rights as hereditary leadership face eviction from unceded territories.

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