[Marxism] Wet’suwet’en struggle - Statement 2

Ken Hiebert knhiebert at shaw.ca
Fri Feb 21 18:47:51 MST 2020

From David Diamond

http://www.theatreforliving.com/ <http://www.theatreforliving.com/>

Some of you will know that I have strong connections with the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en Nations that go back to the No` Xya` (Our Footprints) <https://theatreforliving.us16.list-manage.com/track/click?u=747cdb63f3884ec9b52015116&id=281d3c2fd7&e=da84da526e> production in 1987-90. The Delgamuuxw Court Case <https://theatreforliving.us16.list-manage.com/track/click?u=747cdb63f3884ec9b52015116&id=fc59cda193&e=da84da526e> (1997) gave the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en jurisdiction over many things, including development in their 58,000 sq. kilometers of ancestral lands in the NW of British Columbia.
Although the details of Delgamuuxw are currently being disputed in some sectors, it is clear to me that the Hereditary Chiefs have jurisdiction over their Territory. With all due respect, the elected, Federal Department of Indian Affairs Band Council Chiefs (an imposition of the Colonial Government) have jurisdiction on Reserves only. I support the Hereditary Chiefs in their insistence on the validity of the supreme court decision and therefore the validity of Wet’suwet’en law alongside Canadian law. Let’s understand this is only ‘necessary’ inside the imposition of colonialism.
The Wet’suwet’en have recently exercised their legal rights as a Nation inside Canada and have therefore been under attack by the Governments of Canada and British Columbia, for their refusal to allow Coastal GasLink/TC Energy to push through a 670-kilometer fracked gas pipeline that would carry fracked gas through Wet’suwet’en Territory. The Chiefs suggested an alternate route which was refused by the energy company for financial reasons. This has mostly been ignored by the media. Wet’suwet’en blockades went up to protect their territory. The Government’s reaction was to use the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) as a heavily armed (including snipers and helicopters) occupying force, removing the legal and peaceful blockades. As a reaction to this, solidarity demonstrations and blockades have sprung up across Canada and around the world, in support of the Wet’suwet’en. This has really disrupted rail and other services, having a huge effect on the economy.

While some believe this is about the pipeline, it seems clear to me that at core it is about respecting territorial jurisdiction and making Reconciliation a reality and not just lip service. For instance, Truedau campaigned on Reconciliation being real – meaning things like access to drinkable water (that has been poisoned by logging, mining, fossil fuel extraction, etc.), access to education, to health care, and numerous other things most Canadians take for granted. These promises have to date not been acted upon in meaningful ways.

Yesterday (Feb. 20) the RCMP offered to respect one of the Hereditary Chiefs’ requests and withdraw from the blockade area – something the Chiefs have insisted on before agreeing to speak to Canadian Government officials, having said they will not engage in dialogue with guns aimed at them. However, it is essential to understand, as a Representative for the Chiefs has said, this does not solve everything. It is the beginning of a possible solution. Prime Minister Trudeau has refused to meet personally with the Chiefs, a sign of disrespect, if we acknowledge these are, in fact, Nation to Nation conversations.
Today (Feb. 20) Trudeau addressed the media (and therefore the nation and the Hereditary Chiefs and other Indigenous Leaders) and, while saying the Government was committed to dialogue and Reconciliation, that he expected the RCMP withdrawal would mean the blockades would come down and if they don’t, they will need to be removed. I believe he was particularly referring to the Mohawk blockade of a train line that is stopping train movement that is critical to the Canadian economy. He insisted that the responsibility is now sitting with Indigenous Leaders and that ‘dialogue cannot be one-sided’. I know for a fact that attempts at dialogue have been one-sided through-out Canadian history and it is not Indigenous Leaders (for the most part) who have not been willing.  
We are at a historical turning point in Canada. I have just read that Wet'suwet'en and Mohawk Leadership have issued a joint statement that the barricades will come down when the RCMP and Coastal GasLink/TC Energy leave Wet'suwet'en Territory and all gas line activities cease. Having been ignored and disrespected for too long, this is an understandable next step. Full information here:

https://inquinte.ca/story/barricades-will-come-down-when-rcmp-cgl-leave-chiefs <https://inquinte.ca/story/barricades-will-come-down-when-rcmp-cgl-leave-chiefs>
What I fail to understand is, if there was true dialogue, why the Wet’suwet’en Chiefs’ suggestion of a different route for the pipeline, which would avoid sensitive areas of their Territory, was and continues to be ignored. Apparently, Coastal GasLink/TC Energy has said a route change would be too expense. If consultation would have been real and honourable, this would have been negotiated years ago, instead of the route being imposed now. And true and honourable Reconciliation has to mean things are done very, very differently than they have been done.

Obviously this is evolving moment to moment and I cannot possibly keep up or explain all the rest of the context in this newsletter. My sincere hope is for a resolution without physical or any other kind of violence, beyond what has already occurred.

If you are interested in knowing more, the Resources Section of this Toolkit is a great source of information:  
http://unistoten.camp/supportertoolkit2020/ <https://theatreforliving.us16.list-manage.com/track/click?u=747cdb63f3884ec9b52015116&id=8e4bee507d&e=da84da526e> 
And in connected news, Canadian Youth are planning a hunger strike in opposition to yet another oil sands development in the north. Details here:
https://www.cbc.ca/kidsnews/post/teens-across-canada-pledge-to-join-indefinite-hunger-strike.-heres-why <https://theatreforliving.us16.list-manage.com/track/click?u=747cdb63f3884ec9b52015116&id=f619b4415d&e=da84da526e>

More information about the Marxism mailing list